I assessed movements of North American porcupines (Erethizon dorsatum) in the Great Basin of northwestern Nevada in relation to reproductive activities during the late summer and fall periods of 1991 and 1992. Porcupines exhibit a mate-defense polygynous mating system and I hypothesized that (1) competitively dominant males would have larger home ranges than both subordinate males and adult females, and (2) variation in home range size among adult male porcupines would be positively correlated with reproductive success. Results indicated that dominant male porcupines ranged over larger areas (average 95% minimum convex polygon home range = 20.7 ha) than subordinate males (average 95% MCP home range = 2.9 ha) and adult females (average 95% MCP home range = 8.2 ha). Analyses of movements in relation to body size and energetic requirements revealed that home ranges of dominant male porcupines were larger than predicted based on body size (approximately 10.2 ha). Breeding period home ranges of dominant male porcupines encompassed portions of the home ranges of 3 to 10 adult females, and indices of reproductive success based on observations of mate-guarding behaviors suggested a strong positive relationship between home range sizes of male porcupines and mating success. Together these data suggested that larger home ranges among dominant males were related to increased mating opportunities and not increased metabolic requirements associated with larger male body sizes. In the study area, however, female porcupines congregated around small, patchily distributed riparian areas, and dominant males with relatively small home ranges encompassing riparian areas may have gained mating access to multiple females. Finally, analyses of overlap among core home ranges (60% MCP) of adult male and adult female porcupines suggested that both sexes maintained relatively exclusive core home range areas, with males exhibiting significantly less range overlap with other males (x̄ = 9.4%) than females with other females (x̄ = 27.1%). It is possible that the small, patchily distributed riparian areas in this desertlike area were such a limited resource that females were unable to maintain exclusive use of their home range areas.
Sweitzer, Richard Alan
"Breeding movements and reproductive activities of porcupine in the Great Basin Desert,"
Western North American Naturalist: Vol. 63
, Article 1.
Available at: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/wnan/vol63/iss1/1