Accounting for individual behavioural variation in studies of habitat selection

J Anim Ecol. 2014 Mar;83(2):319-21. doi: 10.1111/1365-2656.12200.


A caribou wearing an animal-borne video camera (a) and animal-borne video footage taken from systems deployed on mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) in north-central Washington state, USA (b-d). When paired with tracking technology, animal-borne video can reveal detailed information about behaviour and environmental features at each location: (b) feeding, (c) vigilant in the open, (d) vigilant in cover, (e) resting in the open. Accordingly, animal-borne video systems should allow for analyses of habitat selection by individuals in particular behavioural states. In Focus: DeCesare, N.J., Hebblewhite, M., Bradley, M., Hervieux, D., Neufeld, L. & Musiani, M. (2014) Linking habitat selection and predation risk to spatial variation in survival. Journal of Animal Ecology, 83, 343-352. Resource selection is often assumed to confer enhanced fitness, but this assumption is rarely examined. In a study involving woodland caribou subject to grey wolf predation, DeCesare et al. (2014) show that while patterns of selection by caribou did correspond with a fitness proxy (survival probability), individuals did not avoid wolf predation risk to the extent that would minimize mortality. Here, we use the results of this paper as a springboard for discussing the choice of fitness proxies and the need to account for individual behavioural variation in studies of resource selection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ecosystem*
  • Female
  • Food Chain*
  • Longevity*
  • Reindeer / physiology*