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Resource depletion versus landscape complementation: habitat selection by a multiple central place forager

Valls Fox H., De Garine-Wichatitsky M., Fritz H., Chamaille-Jammes S.. 2018. Landscape Ecology, 33 (1) : p. 127-140.

Context: The spatial distribution of non-substitutable resources implies diverging predictions for animal movement patterns. At broad scales, animals should respond to landscape complementation by selecting areas where resource patches are close-by to minimize movement costs. Yet at fine scales, central place effects lead to the depletion of patches that are close to one another and that should ultimately be avoided by consumers. Objectives: We developed a multi-scale resource selection framework to test whether animal movement is driven by landscape complementation or resource depletion and identify at which spatial scale these processes are relevant from an animal's perspective. Methods: During the dry season, surface water and forage are non-substitutable resources for African elephants. Eight family herds were tracked using GPS loggers in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. We explained habitat selection during foraging trips by mapping surface water at two scales with gaussian kernels of varying widths placed over each waterhole. Results: Unexpectedly, elephants select areas with low waterhole density at both fine scales (< 1 km) and broad scales (5¿7 km). Selection is stronger when elephants forage far away from water, even more so as the dry season progresses. Conclusions: Elephant selection of low waterhole density areas suggests that resource depletion around multiple central places is the main driver of their habitat selection. By identifying the scale at which animals respond to waterhole distribution we provide a template for water management in arid and semi-arid landscapes that can be tailored to match the requirements and mobility of free ranging wild or domestic species. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : parc national; paysage; cartographie; dynamique des populations; plante fourragère; Écologie animale; faune; parcours; ressource en eau; gestion des ressources naturelles; Épuisement des ressources; Éléphant d'afrique; zimbabwe

Thématique : Conservation de la nature et ressources foncières; Ecologie animale

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