Editor’s choice May/June 2024 | Wildlife Biology

Submitted by editor on 18 April 2024. Get the paper!

The editor’s choice is the article by Natasha Ellison et al.: “Combining animal interactions and habitat selection into models of space use: a case study with white-tailed deer”.

For a long time, researchers have relied on static habitat maps to explain wildlife space use patterns. However, field experience has indicated that in every study area, certain locations are far more or less frequented by our study species than our simplistic habitat type approach could explain. Finally, movement ecology provides more detailed insights into the complexities of space use by individuals and populations. In their study, Ellison et al. explore how animals determine their daily movement trajectories through a combination of ecological processes such as interactions with other organisms, memory of previous events, and changes in the environment. They employ a process-based modeling approach using partial-differential equations (PDEs) to understand the emergence of space use patterns over time. They focus on three key ecological processes: the heterogeneous environment, environmental markings of moving conspecifics, and the memory of direct interactions with conspecifics. Using a large dataset of white-tailed deer in the southeastern United States, they combine PDE-based models with step-selection analysis to investigate these processes. The study reveals how individual-based movements shape the overall space use of a species, and thus provided relevant insights for both research and management.

/Ilse Storch





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