FACTORS AFFECTING THE PLACEMENT OF COMMON GENET LATRINE SITES IN A MEDITERRANEAN LANDSCAPE IN PORTUGAL

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Abstract

In addition to the role of latrine sites as areas for deposition of feces, they may play roles in territoriality, sexual attraction, warning and defense behaviors, and regulation of physiological functions. Several carnivores, such as the common genet (Genetta genetta) use latrines as stations for scent communication. We describe the factors influencing the placement and use of latrine sites by a Mediterranean population of common genets inhabiting cork oak woodlands in southwestern Portugal. Using logistical regression analysis, we found a higher probability of finding latrines in areas with high understory height and diversity of landscape units, low human disturbance and accessibility, and proximity to potential refuges and other latrines. An exploratory univariate analysis showed that latrines were located primarily in conspicuously high features within the landscape such as in old-growth cork oak trees. Their use was associated with low human disturbance, inaccessibility, and high understory cover. Our results suggest that forest managers should preserve some old trees in oak woodlands, because these trees have a fundamental role in scent communication among genets (latrines), as well as serve as resting sites.

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