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      Comparison of feeding habits and habitat use between invasive raccoons and native raccoon dogs in Hokkaido, Japan

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          In Japan, invasive raccoons cause severe ecological and social problems by transmitting pathogens to humans, livestock, and native species, causing substantial crop damage, and competing with native species. Possible competition between invasive raccoons and native raccoon dogs is of concern in Japan because Japanese raccoon dogs have a limited distribution and are native only to Japan and the two species have similar characteristics. We assessed potential competition between raccoons and raccoon dogs by comparing feeding habits and habitat use.


          Both species were captured in Hokkaido, Japan from 2004 to 2017. More raccoons were captured close to agricultural land at the forest periphery (70.1%, 358/511); conversely, more raccoon dogs were captured in the forest core (74.9%, 253/338). Feeding habits were then examined by fecal analysis and stable isotope analyses. Fecal analysis revealed both species to be opportunistic omnivores that consumed easily found food items. However, raccoon feces contained more crops, whereas raccoon dog feces contained more insects, reflecting the different locations in which the species were trapped. Moreover, stable isotope ratios were significantly higher in raccoons than raccoon dogs (Corn has the highest carbon stable isotope (δ 13C) value, and amphibians and reptiles are high in nitrogen stable isotope (δ 15N); forest resources such as insects and wild fruits are low in δ 13C and δ 15N).


          We conclude that both species ate similar food types, but their food preferences appeared to differ. Raccoon and raccoon dog habitat use also differed, possibly because the two species inhabited areas where they could easily obtain their preferred foods. Therefore, the current feeding habits and habitat use of raccoons do not appear to overlap sufficiently with those of raccoon dogs to impact the latter. The results of this study, particularly the stable isotope data, may provide a useful precedent for future studies of competition in medium-sized mammals, particularly canids.

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          Influence of diet on the distribution of carbon isotopes in animals

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            Stepwise enrichment of 15N along food chains: Further evidence and the relation between δ15N and animal age

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              Influence of diet on the distribution of nitrogen isotopes in animals


                Author and article information

                (+81)-11-706-5104 ,
                BMC Ecol
                BMC Ecol
                BMC Ecology
                BioMed Central (London )
                11 September 2019
                11 September 2019
                : 19
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2173 7691, GRID grid.39158.36, Department of Environmental Veterinary Science, Graduate School of Veterinary Medicine, , Hokkaido University, ; Kita 18 Nishi 9, Kita-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0818 Japan
                [2 ]Wildlife Research & Consulting Services Ltd, 94-2 Saji, Aogaki, Tamba, Hyogo 669-3811 Japan
                [3 ]Shiretoko Nature Foundation, 531 Iwaubetsu, Shari, Hokkaido 099-4356 Japan
                [4 ]Raccoon Researchers Group, Kita 21 Nishi 3, Kita-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido 001-0021 Japan
                © The Author(s) 2019

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Funded by: TAKARA Harmonist fund
                Funded by: Nissei Foundation
                Research Article
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                © The Author(s) 2019


                raccoon, invasive species, native species, raccoon dog, feeding habit, habitat use


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