Lutra 48(1)_Ruiz-Olmo et al_2005

Habitat selection by female otters with small cubs in freshwater habitats in northeast Spain

Otters (Lutra lutra) are found in aquatic environments. This study, however, found differences in the use and importance of patches at different moments of the otter life cycle. We studied five natal dens and 38 rearing sectors of small otter cubs in Mediterranean freshwater habitats of southwestern Europe. The results show a strong relationship between the presence of such rearing sectors and the availability of food and the presence of complex dens. Females with small cubs selected the deepest and widest stretches, with more ponds and calm waters, a greater abundance of food and a greater availability of potential and used dens. Some of the rearing sectors were used for generations. Our results highlight the importance of certain stretches for the breeding of the otter. Conservation of these areas should be a basic tool in the management of species such as the otter.