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

journal contribution
posted on 2019-03-01, 00:00 authored by Tim DohertyTim Doherty, Charles Fist, Don DriscollDon Driscoll
© 2019, Springer Nature B.V. Context: 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. Objectives: 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. Methods: 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. Results: 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. Conclusions: 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.



Landscape ecology






603 - 614




New York, N.Y.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2019, Springer Nature B.V.