, Volume 156, Issue 2, pp 465–477 | Cite as

Animal movement in dynamic landscapes: interaction between behavioural strategies and resource distributions

  • David A. Roshier
  • Veronica A. J. Doerr
  • Erik D. Doerr
Behavioral Ecology - Original Paper


Most ecological and evolutionary processes are thought to critically depend on dispersal and individual movement but there is little empirical information on the movement strategies used by animals to find resources. In particular, it is unclear whether behavioural variation exists at all scales, or whether behavioural decisions are primarily made at small spatial scales and thus broad-scale patterns of movement simply reflect underlying resource distributions. We evaluated animal movement responses to variable resource distributions using the grey teal (Anas gracilis) in agricultural and desert landscapes in Australia as a model system. Birds in the two landscapes differed in the fractal dimension of their movement paths, with teal in the desert landscape moving less tortuously overall than their counterparts in the agricultural landscape. However, the most striking result was the high levels of individual variability in movement strategies, with different animals exhibiting different responses to the same resources. Teal in the agricultural basin moved with both high and low tortuosity, while teal in the desert basin primarily moved using low levels of tortuosity. These results call into question the idea that broad-scale movement patterns simply reflect underlying resource distributions, and suggest that movement responses in some animals may be behaviourally complex regardless of the spatial scale over which movement occurs.


Landscape heterogeneity Animal movement Fractals Tortuosity Anas gracilis 



We gratefully acknowledge Mike Schultz for his time and invaluable knowledge of waterbirds, Martin Asmus and Mark Wilson for their able assistance in the field, Craig Poynter for drawing the maps and the Fivebough and Tuckerbill Wetlands Management Trust. Leo Joseph, David Watson and two anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments to improve the manuscript. This project was undertaken under NSW National Parks and Wildlife Scientific Licence numbers S10426 and 3244 and Charles Sturt University Animal Care and Ethics Approval No. 01/061. We gratefully acknowledge the funding of this project by the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation UCS34A and the Australian Research Council LP0347040.


  1. Argos CLS (1996) User’s manual, Manual de l’utilisateur. Argos, ToulouseGoogle Scholar
  2. Atkinson RPD, Rhodes CJ, Macdonald DW, Anderson RM (2002) Scale-free dynamics in the movement patterns of jackals. Oikos 98:134–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bartumeus F, Catalan J, Fulco UL, Lyra ML, Viswanathan GM (2002) Optimizing the encounter rate in biological interactions: Lévy versus Brownian strategies. Phys Rev Lett 88: article no. 097901CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bélisle M (2005) Measuring landscape connectivity: the challenge of behavioural landscape ecology. Ecology 86:1988–1995CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Benhamou S, Bried J, Bonadonna F, Jouventin P (2003) Homing in pelagic birds: a pilot experiment with white-chinned petrels released in the open sea. Behav Processes 61:95–100PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bennetts RE, Kitchens WM (2000) Factors influencing movement probabilities of a nomadic food specialist: proximate foraging benefits or ultimate gains from exploration? Oikos 91:459–467CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bingman VP, Able KP (2002) Maps in birds: representational mechanisms and neural bases. Curr Opin Neurobiol 12:745–750PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bunn SE, Davies PM, Winning M (2003) Sources of organic carbon supporting the food web of an arid zone floodplain river. Freshwater Biol 48:619–635CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cantwell MD, Forman RTT (1993) Landscape graphs—ecological modeling with graph theory to detect configurations common to diverse landscapes. Landscape Ecol 8:239–255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Conradt L, Zollner PA, Roper TJ, Frank K, Thomas CD (2003) Foray search: an effective systematic dispersal strategy in fragmented landscapes. Am Nat 161:905–915PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dicke M, Burrough PA (1988) Using fractal dimensions for characterizing tortuosity of animal trails. Physiol Entomol 13:393–398CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Doerr ED, Doerr VAJ (2005) Dispersal range analysis: quantifying individual variation in dispersal behaviour. Oecologia 142:1–10PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Doerr VAJ, Doerr ED (2004) Fractal analysis can explain individual variation in dispersal search paths. Ecology 85:1428–1438CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Environment Australia (2001) A Directory of important wetlands in Australia, 3rd edn. Environment Australia, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  15. Fauchald P (1999) Foraging in a hierarchical patch system. Am Nat 153:603–613CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fauchald P, Erikstad KE, Skarsfjord H (2000) Scale-dependent predator-prey interactions: the hierarchical spatial distribution of seabirds and prey. Ecology 81:773–783Google Scholar
  17. Fauchald P, Tveraa T (2006) Hierarchical patch dynamics and animal movement. Oecologia 149:383–395PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Frith HJ (1957) Breeding and movements of wild ducks in inland New South Wales. CSIRO Wildl Res 2:19–31Google Scholar
  19. Frith HJ (1959) The ecology of wild ducks in inland New South Wales. II. Movements. CSIRO Wildl Res 4:108–130Google Scholar
  20. Frith HJ (1963) Movements and mortality rates of the black duck and grey teal in south-eastern Australia. CSIRO Wildl Res 8:119–131Google Scholar
  21. Frith HJ (1982) Waterfowl in Australia, 2nd edn. Angus & Robertson, SydneyGoogle Scholar
  22. Fritz H, Said S, Weimerskirch H (2003) Scale-dependent hierarchical adjustments of movement patterns in a long-range foraging seabird. Proc R Soc Lond Ser B Biol Sci 270:1143–1148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fullaghar PJ (1992) The taxonomic and conservation status of the Indonesian teal Anas gibberifrons. IWRB Threat Waterfowl Res Group Newslett 2:7–8Google Scholar
  24. Green DG (1994) Connectivity and complexity in landscapes and ecosystems. Pac Conserv Biol 1:194–200Google Scholar
  25. Hutchings MJ, John EA, Stewart AJA (2000) The ecological consequences of environmental heterogeneity: the 40th symposium of the British Ecological Society. Blackwell Science, Malden, MAGoogle Scholar
  26. Janson CH, Byrne R (2007) What wild primates know about resources: opening up the black box. Anim Cogn 10:357–367PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Keitt TH, Urban DL, Milne BT (1997) Detecting critical scales in fragmented landscapes. Conserv Ecol 1:4Google Scholar
  28. Kenow KP, Meyer MW, Evers DC, Douglas DC, Hines J (2002) Use of satellite telemetry to identify common loon migration routes, staging areas and wintering range. Waterbirds 25:449–458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kear J, Hulme M (2005) Ducks, geese and swans. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  30. Kingsford RT (2000) Ecological impacts of dams, water diversions management on floodplain wetlands in Australia. Austral Ecol 25:109–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Klaassen RHG, Nolet BA, Van Leeuwen CHA (2007) Prior knowledge about spatial pattern affects patch assessment rather than movement between patches in tactile-feeding mallard. J Anim Ecol 76:20–29PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Knighton AD, Nanson GC (1994) Flow transmission along an arid zone anastomosing river, Cooper Creek, Australia. Hydrol Processes 8:137–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kolasa J, Pickett STA (eds) (1991) Ecological heterogeneity. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  34. Kotwicki V (1986) Floods of Lake Eyre. South Australian Government, AdelaideGoogle Scholar
  35. Levene H (1960) Robust tests for equality of variances. In: Olkin I, Ghurye SG, Hoeffding W, Madow WG, Mann HB (Eds) Contributions to probability and statistics. Stanford University Press, Stanford, pp 278–292Google Scholar
  36. Lima SL, Zollner PA (1996) Towards a behavioural ecology of ecological landscapes. Trends Ecol Evol 11:131–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lipp HP, Vyssotski AL, Wolfer DP, Renaudineau S, Savini M, Troster G, Dell’omo G (2004) Pigeon homing along highways and exits. Curr Biol 14:1239–1249PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mandelbrot BB (1967) How long is the coast of Britain? Statistical self-similarity and fractional dimension. Science 156:636–638PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Manly BFJ (1995) Randomization tests to compare means with unequal variation. Sankhya: Indian J Stat 57:200–222Google Scholar
  40. Manly BFJ, Francis RICC (1999) Analysis of variance by randomization when variances are unequal. Aust N Z J Stat 41:411–429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Marchant S, Higgins PJ (1990) Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds. Volume 1. Ratites to ducks. Oxford University Press, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  42. Marzluff JM, Millspaugh JJ, Hurvitz P, Handcock MS (2004) Relating resources to a probabilistic measure of space use: forest fragments and Stellar’s Jay. Ecology 85:1411–1427CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mårell A, Ball JP, Hofgaard A (2002) Foraging and movement trajectories of female reindeer: insights from fractal analysis, correlated random walks and Lévy flights. Can J Zool 80:854–865CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. McFeeters SK (1996) The use of the normalized difference water index (NDWI) in the delineation of open water features. Int J Remote Sens 17:1425–1432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Miller MR, Takekawa JY, Fleskes JP, Orthmeyer DL, Casazza ML, Perry WM (2005). Spring migration of northern pintails from California’s Central Valley wintering area tracked with satellite telemetry: routes, timing, and destinations. Can J Zool 83:1314–1332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mitchell MS, Powell RA (2004) A mechanistic home range model of optimal use of spatially distributed resources. Ecol Modell 177:209–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Mitchell MS, Powell RA (2007) Optimal use of resources structures home ranges and spatial distribution of black bears. Anim Behav 74:219–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Nams VO (2005) Using animal movement paths to measure response to spatial scale. Oecologia 143:179–188PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Nams VO, Bourgeois M (2004) Fractal analysis measures habitat use at different spatial scales: an example with American marten. Can J Zool 82:1738–1747CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Noser R, Byrne RW (2007a) Mental maps in Chacma baboons (Papio ursinus): using inter-group encounters as a natural experiment. Anim Cogn 10:331–340PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Noser R, Byrne RW (2007b) Travel routes and planning of visits to out-of-sight resources in wild Chacma baboons (Papio ursinus). Anim Behav 73:257–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Puckridge JT (1998) Wetland management in arid Australia. The Lake Eyre Basin as an example. In: Williams WD (ed) Wetlands in a dry land: understanding for management. Environment Australia, Canberra, pp 87–96Google Scholar
  53. Roshier DA, Rumbachs RM (2004) Broad-scale mapping of temporary wetlands in arid Australia. J Arid Environ 56:249–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Roshier DA, Robertson AI, Kingsford RT, Green DG (2001a) Continental-scale interactions with temporary resources may explain the paradox of large populations of desert waterbirds in australia. Landsc Ecol 16:547–556CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Roshier DA, Whetton PH, Allan RJ, Robertson AI (2001b) Distribution and persistence of temporary wetland habitats in arid Australia in relation to climate. Austral Ecol 26:371–384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Roshier DA, Klomp NI, Asmus MW (2006) Movements of a nomadic waterfowl, grey teal Anas gracilis, across inland Australia—results from satellite telemetry spanning 15 months. Ardea 94(3) (in press)Google Scholar
  57. Roshier DA, Asmus MW, Klaassen M (2008) What drives long-distance movements in the nomadic grey teal Anas gracilis in Australia? Ibis (in press)Google Scholar
  58. Sheldon F, Boulton AJ, Puckridge JT (2002) Conservation value of variable connectivity: aquatic invertebrate assemblages of channel and floodplain habitats of a central Australian arid-zone river, cooper creek. Biol Conserv 103:13–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Sheppard JK, Preen AR, Marsh H, Lawler IR, Whiting SD, Jones RE (2006) Movement heterogeneity of dugongs, Dugong dugon (Müller), over large spatial scales. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 334:64–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Sugihara G, May RM (1990) Applications for fractals in ecology. Trends Ecol Evol 5:79–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Taylor PD, Fahrig L, Henein K, Merriam G (1993) Connectivity is a vital element of landscape structure. Oikos 68:571–573CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Turchin P (1996) Fractal analyses of animal movement: a critique. Ecology 77:2086–2090CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Turchin P (1998) Quantitative analysis of movement. Sinauer, Sutherland Google Scholar
  64. Urban D, Keitt T (2001) landscape connectivity: a graph-theoretic perspective. Ecology 82:1205–1218Google Scholar
  65. Van Valen L (1978) The statistics of variation. Evol Theory 4:33–43Google Scholar
  66. Verdin JP (1996) Remote sensing of ephemeral water bodies in western Niger. Int J Remote Sens 17:733–748CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Viswanathan GM, Afanasyev V, Buldyrev SV, Havlin S, Da Luz MGE, Raposo EP, Stanley HE (2000) Lévy flights in random searches. Physica A 282:1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Viswanathan GM, Bartumeus F, Buldyrev SV, Catalan J, Fulco UL, Havlin S, Da Luz MGE, Lyra ML, Raposo EP, Stanley HE (2002) Lévy flight random searches in biological phenomena. Physica A 314:208–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Viswanathan GM, Buldyrev SV, Havlin S, Da Luz MGE, Raposo EP, Stanley HE (1999) Optimizing the success of random searches. Nature 401:911–914PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Viswanathan GM, Afanasyev V, Buldyrev SV, Murphy EJ, Prince PA, Stanley HE (1996) Lévy flight search patterns of wandering albatrosses. Nature 381:413–415CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Weins JA (1989) Spatial scaling in ecology. Funct Ecol 3:385–397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Weins JA, Milne BT (1989) Scaling of ‘landscapes’ in landscape ecology, or, landscape ecology from a beetle’s perspective. Landscape Ecol 3:87–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Westcott DA, Graham DL (2000) Patterns of movement and seed dispersal of a tropical frugivore. Oecologia 122:249–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Young HG, Sorenson MD, Johnson KP (1997) A description of the Madagascar teal Anas bernieri and an examination of its relationships with the grey teal A. gracilis. Wildfowl 48:174–180Google Scholar
  75. Zollner PA, Lima SL (1999) Search strategies for landscape-level interpatch movements. Ecology 80:1019–1030CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Zollner PA, Lima SL (2005) Behavioral tradeoffs when dispersing across a patchy landscape. Oikos 108:219–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • David A. Roshier
    • 1
  • Veronica A. J. Doerr
    • 2
    • 3
  • Erik D. Doerr
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Land, Water and SocietyCharles Sturt UniversityAlburyAustralia
  2. 2.CSIRO Sustainable EcosystemsCanberraAustralia
  3. 3.School of Botany and ZoologyAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

Personalised recommendations