Selection, use, choice and occupancy: clarifying concepts in resource selection studies



  1. During the last decade, there has been a proliferation of statistical methods for studying resource selection by animals. While statistical techniques are advancing at a fast pace, there is confusion in the conceptual understanding of the meaning of various quantities that these statistical techniques provide.

  2. Terms such as selection, choice, use, occupancy and preference often are employed as if they are synonymous. Many practitioners are unclear about the distinctions between different concepts such as ‘probability of selection,’ ‘probability of use,’ ‘choice probabilities’ and ‘probability of occupancy’.

  3. Similarly, practitioners are not always clear about the differences between and relevance of ‘relative probability of selection’ vs. ‘probability of selection’ to effective management.

  4. Practitioners also are unaware that they are using only a single statistical model for modelling resource selection, namely the exponential probability of selection, when other models might be more appropriate. Currently, such multimodel inference is lacking in the resource selection literature.

  5. In this paper, we attempt to clarify the concepts and terminology used in animal resource studies by illustrating the relationships among these various concepts and providing their statistical underpinnings.