, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 379-388

Spatial scale and the cost of density-dependent habitat selection

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Habitat selection costs depend upon the scale of habitat. At the fine-grained microhabitat scale, cost is linked to optimal foraging, and habitat selection should be abandoned even though fitness is greater in one microhabitat than in another. At the coarse-grained macrohabitat scale, cost is linked to emigration, and habitat selection should often be maintained even though fitness may be less in the ‘preferred’ macrohabitat than in others. Macrohabitat selection cost is easily incorporated into habitat selection theory and can be tested by linear regression techniques on isodars (lines of every point at which the fitness of individuals in one habitat equals that of individuals in another). The results of one recent survey of white-footed mice living in different macrohabitats are consistent with the predictions of emigration cost.