Can minimum convex polygon home ranges be used to draw biologically meaningful conclusions?
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Many conclusions about mammalian ranging behaviour have been drawn based on minimum convex polygon (MCP) estimates of home range size, although several studies have revealed its unpredictable nature compared to that of the kernel density estimator. We investigated to what extent the choice of home range estimator affected the biological interpretation in comparative studies. We found no discrepancy when the question asked covered a wide range of taxa, as real and very large differences in range size were likely to have masked smaller differences due to the choice of home range estimator. However, when the question asked concerned within-species characteristics, the choice of home range estimator explained as much of the variation in range size as did the ecological variable in question. The implications for macro-ecological and intraspecific studies are discussed.
KeywordsComparative studies Home range size Kernel MCP Variance components analysis
The authors are grateful to the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Hedmark University College, The Research Council of Norway and the Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management for funding this study. Jos Milner, Tim Coulson and one anonymous referee provided valuable comments on a previous draft.
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