Landscape Ecology

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 603–614 | Cite as

Animal movement varies with resource availability, landscape configuration and body size: a conceptual model and empirical example

  • Tim S. DohertyEmail author
  • Charles N. Fist
  • Don A. Driscoll
Research Article



Animals must move to find food, shelter and mates, and escape predation and competition. Changes in landscape configuration and resource availability can disrupt natural movement, negatively impacting fitness and population persistence.


Here, we propose a conceptual model to better understand the interactive effects of landscape configuration, resource availability and body size on animal movement. We then apply this model to a field study of reptile movement in a fragmented farming landscape.


We radio-tracked dragons in a large rectangular remnant (with high tree cover) and a series of narrow linear remnants (low tree cover). Soil nutrients and beetle abundance (potential food) were higher in the linear remnants compared to the large rectangular remnant. Using 2301 tracking points from 59 individual × month combinations, we calculated activity area size and shape, daily movement rate and monthly displacement distance.


Activity area size and daily movement rate were lower in the linear remnants compared to the large rectangular remnant and increased with body size. Activity area linearity increased in linear remnants for larger animals only. Monthly displacement distance did not vary according to tree cover or body size.


Dragons reduced their movement in linear remnants that have higher resource availability. Larger animals were more affected by landscape configuration as the dimensions of their normal activity areas exceeded the typical widths of the linear remnants. Future studies of animal movement in production landscapes will benefit from incorporating measures of resource availability, body size and landscape configuration to test predictions derived from theory.


Biodiversity conservation Habitat fragmentation Home range Land use change Movement ecology Spatial ecology 



This research was generously funded by the Australian Academy of Science’s Margaret Middleton Fund Award and Deakin University’s Centre for Integrative Ecology. We gratefully acknowledge David and Bronwyn Heath for allowing us access to their property, and the National Parks and Wildlife Service for allowing us to work in Pulletop Nature Reserve. We thank Nick Porch and his assistants for sorting and counting the beetle collections, as well as the many volunteers who helped with fieldwork and two anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier version of this paper.


  1. Allan BM, Nimmo DG, Arnould JPY, Martin JK, Ritchie EG (2019) The secret life of possums: data loggers reveal the movement ecology of an arboreal mammal. J Mammal 100:158–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anguiano MP, Diffendorfer JE (2015) Effects of fragmentation on the spatial ecology of the California kingsnake (Lampropeltis californiae). J Herpetol 49:420–427CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Banks SC, Piggott MP, Stow AJ, Taylor AC (2007) Sex and sociality in a disconnected world: a review of the impacts of habitat fragmentation on animal social interactions. Can J Zool 85:1065–1079CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bartoń K (2017) MuMIn: multi-model inference. R package version 1.40.0. Accessed 01 Aug 2018
  5. Bates D, Mächler M, Bolker B, Walker S (2015) Fitting linear mixed-effects models using lme4. J Stat Softw 67:251–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bauer DJ, Curran PJ (2005) Probing interactions in fixed and multilevel regression: inferential and graphical techniques. Multivar Behav Res 40:373–400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Beasley JC, Rhodes OE (2010) Influence of patch- and landscape-level attributes on the movement behavior of raccoons in agriculturally fragmented landscapes. Can J Zool 88:161–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bowers MA, Gregario K, Brame CJ, Matter SF, Dooley JL (1996) Use of space and habitats by meadow voles at the home range, patch and landscape scales. Oecologia 105:107–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bureau of Meteorology (2014) Climate data online. Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology. Accessed 01 Oct 2018
  10. Burnham KP, Anderson DR (2002) Model selection and multimodel inference: a practical information-theoretic approach. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  11. Cale PG (2003) The spatial dynamics of white-browed babbler groups in a fragmented agricultural landscape. Pacific Conserv Biol 8:271CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Calenge C (2006) The package adehabitat for the R software: a tool for the analysis of space and habitat use by animals. Ecol Model 197:516–519CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chalfoun AD, Thompson FR, Ratnaswamy MJ (2002) Nest predators and fragmentation: a review and meta-analysis. Conserv Biol 16:306–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cogger HG (2014) Reptiles & amphibians of Australia. CSIRO Publishing, CollingwoodCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. de Beer Y, van Aarde RJ (2008) Do landscape heterogeneity and water distribution explain aspects of elephant home range in southern Africa’s arid savannas? J Arid Environ 72:2017–2025CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Devictor V, Julliard R, Jiguet F (2008) Distribution of specialist and generalist species along spatial gradients of habitat disturbance and fragmentation. Oikos 117:507–514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Doak DF, Marino PC, Kareiva PM (1992) Spatial scale mediates the influence of habitat fragmentation on dispersal success: implications for conservation. Theor Popul Biol 41:315–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Doherty TS, Driscoll DA (2018) Coupling movement and landscape ecology for animal conservation in production landscapes. Proc R Soc B Biol Sci 285:20172272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Downs JA, Horner MW (2008) Effects of point pattern shape on home-range estimates. J Wildl Manag 72:1813–1818CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Driscoll DA (2004) Extinction and outbreaks accompany fragmentation of a reptile community. Ecol Appl 14:220–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Duncan C, Nilsen EB, Linnell JDC, Pettorelli N (2015) Life-history attributes and resource dynamics determine intraspecific home-range sizes in Carnivora. Remote Sens Ecol Conserv 1:39–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Evans MJ, Banks SC, Barton PS, Davies KF, Driscoll DA (2018) A long-term habitat fragmentation experiment leads to morphological change in a species of carabid beetle. Ecol Entomol 43:282–293CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fahrig L (2007) Non-optimal animal movement in human-altered landscapes. Funct Ecol 21:1003–1015CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fauvelle C, Diepstraten R, Jessen T (2017) A meta-analysis of home range studies in the context of trophic levels: implications for policy-based conservation. PLoS ONE 12:e0173361-12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hillaert J, Hovestadt T, Vandegehuchte ML, Bonte D (2018) Size-dependent movement explains why bigger is better in fragmented landscapes. Ecol Evol 8:10754–10767CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hinam HL, St. Clair CC (2008) High levels of habitat loss and fragmentation limit reproductive success by reducing home range size and provisioning rates of Northern saw-whet owls. Biol Conserv 141:524–535CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hollister J (2018) lakemorpho: lake morphometry metrics. R package version 1.1.1. Accessed 01 Sep 2018
  28. Irwin MT (2007) Diademed Sifaka (Propithecus diadema) ranging and habitat use in continuous and fragmented forest: higher density but lower viability in fragments? Biotropica 40:231–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. IUCN (2010) Why is biodiversity in crisis? IUCN. Accessed 01 Aug 2018
  30. Keinath DA, Doak DF, Hodges KE, Prugh LR, Fagan W, Sekercioglu CH, Buchart SH, Kauffman M (2017) A global analysis of traits predicting species sensitivity to habitat fragmentation. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 26:115–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kelt DA, Van Vuren DH (2001) The ecology and macroecology of mammalian home range area. Am Nat 157:637–645CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lomolino MV, Perault DR (2007) Body size variation of mammals in a fragmented, temperate rainforest. Conserv Biol 21:1059–1069CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Martin JK, Handasyde KA, Taylor AC (2007) Linear roadside remnants: their influence on den-use, home range and mating system in bobucks (Trichosurus cunninghami). Austral Ecol 32:686–696CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. McNab BK (1963) Bioenergetics and the determination of home range size. Am Midl Nat 97:133–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Neckel-Oliveira S, Gascon C (2006) Abundance, body size and movement patterns of a tropical treefrog in continuous and fragmented forests in the Brazilian Amazon. Biol Conserv 128:308–315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Newbold T, Hudson LN, Hill SLL, Contu S, Lysenko I, Senior RA, Börger L, Bennett DJ, Choimes A, Collen B, Day J (2015) Global effects of land use on local terrestrial biodiversity. Nature 520:45–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Perry G, Garland T, Ecology S, Jul N (2002) Lizard home ranges revisited: effects of sex, body size, diet, habitat, and phylogeny. Ecology 83:1870–1885CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Powell RA (2012) Movements, home ranges, activity, and dispersal. In: Powell RA, Boitani L (eds) Carnivore ecology and conservation: a handbook of techniques. Oxford University Press, London, pp 188–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. QGIS Development Team (2018) QGIS geographic information system. Open Source Geospatial Foundation Project. Accessed 01 Jul 2018
  40. R Core Team (2017) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, ViennaGoogle Scholar
  41. Row JR, Blouin-Demers G (2006) Kernels are not accurate estimators of home-range size for herpetofauna. Copeia 2006:797–802CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Saïd S, Gaillard J-M, Widmer O, Débias F, Bourgoin G, Delorme D, Roux C (2009) What shapes intra-specific variation in home range size? A case study of female roe deer. Oikos 118:1299–1306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Saunders DA (1980) Food and movements of the short-billed form of the white-tailed black cockatoo. Aust Wildl Res 7:257–269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Saunders DA (1982) The breeding behaviour and biology of the short-billed form of the white-tailed black cockatoo Calyptorhynchus funereus. Ibis 124:422–455CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Schradin C, Schmohl G, Rödel HG, Schoepf I, Treffler SM, Brenner J, Bleeker M, Schubert M, König B, Pillay N (2010) Female home range size is regulated by resource distribution and intraspecific competition: a long-term field study. Anim Behav 79:195–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Spiegel O, Leu ST, Sih A, Godfrey SS, Bull CM (2015) When the going gets tough: behavioural type-dependent space use in the sleepy lizard changes as the season dries. Proc R Soc B Biol Sci 282:20151768–20151769CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sumner J, Moritz C, Shine R (1999) Shrinking forest shrinks skink: morphological change in response to rainforest fragmentation in the prickly forest skink (Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae). Biol Conserv 91:159–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Thompson SA, Thompson GG (2003) The western bearded dragon, Pogona minor (Squamata: Agamidae): An early lizard coloniser of rehabilitated areas. J R Soc West Aust 86:1–6Google Scholar
  49. Tilman D, Balzer C, Hill J, Befort BL (2011) Global food demand and the sustainable intensification of agriculture. Proc Natl Acad Sci 108:20260–20264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tucker MA, Böhning-Gaese K, Fagan WF, Fryxell JM, Van Moorter B, Alberts SC, Ali AH, Allen AM, Attias N, Avgar T, Bartlam-Brooks H (2018) Moving in the Anthropocene: global reductions in terrestrial mammalian movements. Science 359:466–469CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Ullmann W, Fischer C, Pirhofer-Walzl K, Kramer-Schadt S, Blaum N (2018) Spatiotemporal variability in resources affects herbivore home range formation in structurally contrasting and unpredictable agricultural landscapes. Landscape Ecol 33:1505–1517CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. van der Ree R, Bennett AF (2003) Home range of the squirrel glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) in a network of remnant linear habitats. J Zool 259:327–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. van der Ree R, Soderquist TR, Bennett AF (2001) Home-range use by the brush-tailed phascogale (Phascogale tapoatafa) (Marsupialia) in high-quality, spatially limited habitat. Wildl Res 28:517–525CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Warzecha D, Diekötter T, Wolters V, Jauker F (2016) Intraspecific body size increases with habitat fragmentation in wild bee pollinators. Landscape Ecol 31:1449–1455CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. White CR, Seymour RS (2003) Mammalian basal metabolic rate is proportional to body mass2/3. Proc Natl Acad Sci 100:4046–4049CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wickham H, Francois R (2015) dplyr: A grammar of data manipulation. R package version 0.4.1. Accessed 01 Jul 2018
  57. Wotherspoon AD (2007) Ecology and management of eastern bearded dragon Pogona barbata. PhD thesis, University of Western Sydney, Richmond, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  58. Young ME, Ryberg WA, Fitzgerald LA, Hibbitts TJ (2018) Fragmentation alters home range and movements of the dunes sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus). Can J Zool 96:905-912CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life and Environmental Sciences (Burwood Campus)Deakin UniversityGeelongAustralia

Personalised recommendations