Spatial Ecology of River Otters in Southern Illinois
North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) populations display strong variations of space use throughout their range and regularly exhibit social dynamics that are considerably more complex than most mustelids. After the successful reintroduction of the river otter to Illinois in the mid-1990s, the steady rebound of the population has now reached a level suitable for sustainable harvest. The reestablishment of an apex predator requires a sound understanding of the species’ spatial ecology for ongoing population management efforts to remain effective. My research involves implanting river otters with intraperitoneal radiotransmitters and obtaining locations to quantify: (1) how much time otters spend in various aquatic and terrestrial habitat types throughout the year; and (2) size and overlap of home ranges.