, Volume 175, Issue 2, pp 537–548 | Cite as

A model for habitat selection and species distribution derived from central place foraging theory

  • Ola Olsson
  • Arvid Bolin
Behavioral ecology - Original research


We have developed a habitat selection model based on central place foraging theory. An individual’s decision to include a patch in its habitat depends on the marginal fitness contribution of that patch, which is characterized by its quality and distance to the central place. The essence of the model we have developed is a fitness isocline which is a function of patch quality and travel time to the patch. It has two parameters: the maximum travel distance to a patch of infinite quality and a coefficient that appropriately scales quality by travel time. Patches falling below the isocline will have positive marginal fitness values and should be included in the habitat. The maximum travel distance depends on the availability and quality of patches, as well as on the forager’s life history, whereas the scaling parameter mostly depends on life history properties. Using the model, we derived a landscape quality metric (which can be thought of as a connectivity measure) that sums the values of available habitat in the landscape around a central place. We then fitted the two parameters to foraging data on breeding white storks (Ciconia ciconia) and estimated landscape quality, which correlated strongly with reproductive success. Landscape quality was then calculated for a larger region where re-introduction of the species is currently going on in order to demonstrate how this model can also be regarded as a species distribution model. In conclusion, we have built a general habitat selection model for central place foragers and a novel way of estimating landscape quality based on a behaviorally scaled connectivity metric.


Habitat selection Patch use theory White storks Ciconia ciconia Pollination Behavior 



This study was financed through Grants from Formas, Oscar and Lili Lamms Stiftelse, and the Centre for Environment and Climate research at Lund University to OO and through the Formas-funded project SAPES. We thank Alan Brelsford, Daniel Rogers and Nina Yoo Pedersen for assistance in the field, and Eric Lonsdorf, Geerten Hengeveld, Jan van Gils, Chris Whelan and two anonymous referees for valuable comments on previous versions of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

442_2014_2931_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (382 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 382 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biodiversity Unit, Department of BiologyLund UniversityLundSweden
  2. 2.Centre for Environmental and Climate ResearchLund UniversityLundSweden

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