Landscape Associations of Road-Killed Virginia Opossums (Didelphis Virginiana) in Central Massachusetts

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Knowing the distribution of species at the landscape level can give insight into the proximate mechanisms determining the species' range on a regional scale. We used a survey of road-killed animals to investigate landscape features associated with the presence of Virginia opossums (Didelphis virginiana) in central Massachusetts. Volunteers noted road-killed opossums on their daily commutes through the Connecticut River Valley and surrounding towns in 2000 and 2002. We used a GIS to characterize both the locations of roadkills and random points according to elevation, land use, distance to open water, traffic speed and number of observers on the road and then used logistic regression to determine the association of roadkill sites with these variables. Dead opossums were found most often at low-elevation sites with less forest cover and more human development. Although the opossum usually is considered a habitat generalist found primarily in association with woodlands, opossums in central Massachusetts are not associated with woodlands and, instead, are most often found in and near urbanized areas.

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The American Midland Naturalist

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