Habitat selection by free-roaming domestic dogs in rabies endemic countries in rural and urban settings

Laura Cunha Silva, Brian Friker, Charlotte Warembourg, Kaushi Kanankege, Ewaldus Wera, Monica Berger-González, Danilo Alvarez, Salome Dürr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Domestic dogs can affect human health through bites and pathogen transmission, particularly in resource-poor countries where dogs, including owned ones, predominantly roam freely. Habitat and resource selection analysis methods are commonplace in wildlife studies but have not been used to investigate the environmental resource use of free-roaming domestic dogs (FRDD). The present study implements GPS devices to investigate habitat selection by FRDD from an urban site and a rural site in Indonesia, and one urban and two rural sites in Guatemala (N = 321 dogs). Spatial mixed effects logistic regression models, accounting for heterogeneous distribution of the resources, showed that patterns of habitat selection by FRDD were similar across study sites. The most preferred resources were anthropogenic, being buildings and roads, which implies selection for human proximity. Vegetation and open fields were less preferred and steep terrain was avoided, indicating that FRDD were synanthropic and that their space patterns likely optimised energy use. Results presented here provide novel data on FRDD habitat selection patterns, while improving our understanding of dog roaming behaviour. These findings provide insights into possible high-risk locations for pathogen transmission for diseases such as rabies, and can assist management authorities in the planning and deployment of efficient disease control campaigns, including oral vaccination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20928
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the fieldworkers who contributed to the collection of the data in Guatemala and Indonesia and all dog owners who participated in this study. This study was funded by the Albert Heim Foundation, the Spezialisierungkommission of the Vetsuisse of the Bern University and the Swiss Science National Foundation, which financed the GCS devices used in the study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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