Ecological Characteristics of Diurnal Rest Sites Used by Ringtails (Bassariscus astutus)

Kathleen P. Gundermann, David S. Green, Frances E. Buderman, Cale H. Myers, J. Mark Higley, Richard N. Brown, Sean M. Matthews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The ringtail (Bassariscus astutus) is a species of conservation concern. Yet, little is known about basic ringtail ecology at the northwestern edge of its range, where the habitat differs considerably from its primary range in the southwestern United States. Diurnal rest sites, such as cavities in live and standing-dead trees, are an essential habitat element for ringtails and co-occurring mesocarnivores. Ringtails use diurnal rest sites as shelter during adverse weather conditions, refugia from predators such as the co-occurring fisher (Pekania pennanti), and dens to raise young. Understanding the forest conditions associated with rest sites selected by ringtails can inform forest management practices. We fixed very-high-frequency radio collars to 16 ringtails on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation in northern California to better understand the relationships between forest characteristics and fisher presence on ringtail rest-site use. We found that ringtails were more likely to select rest sites in mature older forests compared to oak woodland and open areas, and were less likely to select rest sites closer to perennial water sources. We did not detect an effect of fishers on the selection of rest sites. These results indicate that both late-seral and some early-seral forest conditions provide suitable habitat for ringtail rest sites and ultimately demonstrate that ringtails use a mosaic of seral stages in the forests of the Pacific Northwest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)220-233
Number of pages14
JournalNorthwest Science
Volume96
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 30 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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