Fine-scale movements of rural free-ranging dogs in conservation areas in the temperate rainforest of the coastal range of southern Chile

Maximiliano Sepúlveda, Katherine Pelican, Paul Cross, Antonieta Eguren, Randall Singer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Domestic dogs can play a variety of important roles for farmers. However, when in proximity to conservation areas, the presence of rural free-ranging dogs can be problematic due to the potential for predation of, competition with, or transmission of infectious disease to local threatened fauna. We used a frequent location radio tracking technology to study rural free-ranging dog movements and habitat use into sensitive conservation habitats. To achieve a better understanding of foray behaviors in dogs we monitored dogs (n = 14) in rural households located in an isolated area between the Valdivian Coastal Reserve and the Alerce Costero National Park in southern Chile. Dogs were mostly located near households (<200 m) but exhibited a diurnal pattern of directed excursions (forays) away from their home locations. Dogs spent, on average, 5.3% of their time in forays with average per dog foray distances from the house ranging 0.5-1.9. km (maximum distance detected 4.3 km). Foraying behavior was positively associated with pasture habitat compared to forest habitat including protected lands. Foraying dogs rarely used forest habitat and, when entered, trails and/or roads were selected for movement. Our study provides important information about how dogs interact in a fine-scale with wildlife habitat, and, in particular, protected lands, providing insight into how dog behavior might drive wildlife interactions, and, in turn, how an understanding of dog behavior can be used to manage these interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)290-297
Number of pages8
JournalMammalian Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Financial support for this study was provided by a grant from the Morris Animal Foundation (award number D10ZO-057) and the University of Minnesota Grant-in-Aid program. The authors wish to thank A. Espinoza, R. Jara, M. Paredes, M. Rojas and P. Stowhas. Thanks to M. Ebinger and E. Silva-Rodríguez for early discussions on the topic that improved the study. Thanks to F. Villatoro for helpful comments in an advanced draft version. We thank The Nature Conservancy for their logistical support supplied by their park rangers as well as the administrative support provided by the Comité Pro-Defensa de la Fauna y Flora. MAS was funded by Fulbright-CONICYT Doctoral and CONICYT/FONDECYT N° 3140538 Postdoctoral and CONICYT FB 0002 (2014) grants. This study was approved by the Bioethical Committee of the University of Minnesota (code number: 0906A67145). Any mention of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. We are grateful for the comments of the editor and 2 anonymous reviewers, which greatly improved this manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Gesellschaft fü Säugetierkunde.


  • Canis familiaris
  • Domestic dog
  • Habitat use
  • Protected lands
  • Rural communities


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