Truly sedentary? The multi-range tactic as a response to resource heterogeneity and unpredictability in a large herbivore
Much research on large herbivore movement has focused on the annual scale to distinguish between resident and migratory tactics, commonly assuming that individuals are sedentary at the within-season scale. However, apparently sedentary animals may occupy a number of sub-seasonal functional home ranges (sfHR), particularly when the environment is spatially heterogeneous and/or temporally unpredictable. The roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) experiences sharply contrasting environmental conditions due to its widespread distribution, but appears markedly sedentary over much of its range. Using GPS monitoring from 15 populations across Europe, we evaluated the propensity of this large herbivore to be truly sedentary at the seasonal scale in relation to variation in environmental conditions. We studied movement using net square displacement to identify the possible use of sfHR. We expected that roe deer should be less sedentary within seasons in heterogeneous and unpredictable environments, while migratory individuals should be seasonally more sedentary than residents. Our analyses revealed that, across the 15 populations, all individuals adopted a multi-range tactic, occupying between two and nine sfHR during a given season. In addition, we showed that (i) the number of sfHR was only marginally influenced by variation in resource distribution, but decreased with increasing sfHR size; and (ii) the distance between sfHR increased with increasing heterogeneity and predictability in resource distribution, as well as with increasing sfHR size. We suggest that the multi-range tactic is likely widespread among large herbivores, allowing animals to track spatio-temporal variation in resource distribution and, thereby, to cope with changes in their local environment.
KeywordsMigration Residency Sub-seasonal functional home range Plasticity Roe deer
This paper was conceived and written within the EURODEER collaborative project (paper no. 07 of the EURODEER series; www.eurodeer.org). The coauthors are grateful to all members for their support for the initiative. The EURODEER spatial database is hosted by Fondazione Edmund Mach. For France, we would like to thank the local hunting associations and the Fédération Départementale des Chasseurs de la Haute Garonne for allowing us to work in the Comminges, as well as numerous co-workers and volunteers for their assistance. GPS data collection at the Fondazione Edmund Mach was supported by the Autonomous Province of Trento under grant no. 3479 to F.C. (BECOCERWI—Behavioural Ecology of Cervids in Relation to Wildlife Infections) and project 2C2T. The Norwegian data collection was funded by the Norwegian Environment Agency and the county administration of Buskerud county. J Linnell was also funded by the Research Council of Norway (Grants 212919 and 251112). Financial support for GPS data collection in the Bavarian Forest was provided by the EU-programme INTERREG IV (EFRE Ziel 3) and the Bavarian Forest National Park Administration. The Czech Republic data collection was funded by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of CR within the National Sustainability Program I (NPU I), grant number LO1415. Funding was provided in Białowieża, Poland by the Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW), the Mammal Research Institute - Polish Academy of Sciences, the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education (grant no NN304172536). We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.
Author contribution statement
OC, NM and AJMH formulated the idea. AJMH, FC, JDCL, AM, MH, PK, SN, AB, PS, MK, LS, RS and BG provided data. FU created and updated the database. OC, NM, and AJMH developed the methodology, OC and NM performed the statistical analyses and wrote the manuscript with assistance from AJMH. SS, FC, SCJ, JDCL, AM, WP, FU, MH, PK, SN, AB, PS, MK, LS, RS and BG commented on and assisted in revising the manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
All applicable institutional and/or national guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.
Data used for this study are accessible on EURODEER website (http://eurodeer.org) on demand.
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