Spatial scales of habitat selection decisions: implications for telemetry-based movement modeling

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • Movement influences a myriad of ecological processes operating at multiple spatial
    and temporal scales. Yet our understanding of animal movement is limited by the
    resolution of data that can be obtained from individuals. Traditional approaches
    implicitly assume that movement decisions are made at the spatial and temporal scales
    of observation, although this scale is typically an artifact of data-gathering technology
    rather than biological realism. To address this limitation, we used telemetry-based
    movement data for caribou Rangifer tarandus in Newfoundland, Canada, and compared
    movement decisions estimated at the temporal resolution of GPS relocations (2 h) to
    a novel model describing directional movement to areas reachable over an extended
    period. We showed that this newer model is a better predictor of movement decisions
    by caribou, with decisions made at the scale of ∼2 km, including the strong avoidance
    of dense coniferous forest, an outcome not detectable at the scale of GPS relocations.
    These results illustrate the complexity of factors affecting animal movement decisions
    and the analytical challenges associated with their interpretation. Our novel modelling
    framework will help support increased accuracy in predictive models of animal spaceuse, and thereby aid in determining biologically meaningful scales for collecting
    movement and habitat data.

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  • Type of Item
    Article (Published)
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  • License
    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International