Analyzing the Landscape of Fear for Urban Meso-predators – Do North American Coyotes and European Red Foxes perceive the Urban Landscape as a food source or a threat?
The distribution of a species is strongly influenced by a concept known as the Landscape of Fear, which explores a species’ perception of an environment through analyzing its associated benefits and risks. The purpose of this article was to examine how changes in the landscape of fear can explain the recent colonization of urban habitats by mesopredators, to produce a manuscript examining this concept with two mesopredator species from different geographical locations. Attention was focused onto the North American Coyote (Canis latrans) invading North American cities, and the European Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) occupying English. Comparisons between these species are vital for identifying the landscape of fear, and whether species continue to populate human-dominated habitats as technologies advance and cities expand. Determining whether these results are reproducible worldwide, allows predictions for the urban migration of other mesopredators. Among other factors, a key contributor towards this urban migration is the removal of perceived disadvantages associated with their natural environments, such as fear of predation and limited resource availability. Whereas, technology is the key perceived risk with human-dominated habitats. Research indicates new adaptational behaviours emerging, recognizing these technologies as high-risk and a subsequent decline in fatalities as a result, due to generational teaching. Additionally, both species conferred a dietary shift from hunting for small animals to scavenging in urban environments. Further research is necessary to explore the possible implications of changes in species distribution towards human-dominated habitats.