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OttersEcology, behaviour and conservation$
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Hans Kruuk

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780198565871

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198565871.001.0001

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(p.39) Chapter 4 Habitats

Hans Kruuk

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes terrestrial and underwater habitats for different otter species. Results of surveys of terrestrial habitat selection based on distribution of faeces (‘spraints’) should be treated with caution. The aquatic part of the habitat is restricted by depth as well as substrate and access to prey. Different habitats are used at various times of year, and in several species the sexes use different habitats; males preferring larger rivers or more exposed coasts. Small freshwater streams are used more intensively per unit area than larger rivers. Where several species of otter occur together, they show different selection of habitat. Sea otters have a dominating effect on ecosystems through their influence on numbers of sea urchins, which graze sea algae vegetations. For several otter species using marine habitats, the presence of freshwater sources (for cleansing fur) is essential; numbers of otter dens (‘holts’) and freshwater sources are correlated.

Keywords:   habitat selection, sex differences, species differences, terrestrial, aquatic, depth, substrate, ecosystems, fur cleansing

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