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Oecologia

, 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

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Landscape heterogeneity Animal movement Fractals Tortuosity Anas gracilis 

Notes

Acknowledgements

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.

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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

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