An observational study of coyote (Canis latrans) scent-marking and territoriality in Yellowstone National Park
Allen, J.J., Bekoff, M. and Crabtree, R.L
Ethology, Vol. 105 Issue 4 pp. 289-302
Free‐ranging coyotes (Canis latrans) living in neighboring packs were observed in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, from Jan. to May 1997. Through direct observation, we recorded the location of coyote scent marks and information regarding the identity of the marking animal. Patterns of scent‐marking were then analyzed spatially and demographically. All of the evidence from the present study supports a strong relationship between scent‐marking and territoriality in these coyotes, and all predictions were met. A preponderance of scent marks was found in the periphery of territories. Most of those marks were raised‐leg urinations (RLUs) and forward‐lean urinations (FLUs), postures associated very strongly with males, particularly dominant individuals. Ground‐scratching was also closely associated with these types of marks and was performed more on the periphery of territories than in the interior. A complete lack of overlap of adjacent territories and very limited overlap of movements into territories fits classic definitions of territory and home range. Scent‐marking seems to be strongly associated with the establishment and maintenance of these boundaries between packs of coyotes competing for the same resources in a limited space.