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Keywords:

  • foraging strategies;
  • habitat selection;
  • individual-based model;
  • interpatch movement;
  • movement biases;
  • residency-time analysis;
  • resource selection function

Summary

1. Several methods have been developed to assess habitat selection, most of which are based on a comparison between habitat attributes in used vs. unused or random locations, such as the popular resource selection functions (RSFs). Spatial evaluation of residency time has been recently proposed as a promising avenue for studying habitat selection. Residency-time analyses assume a positive relationship between residency time within habitat patches and selection. We demonstrate that RSF and residency-time analyses provide different information about the process of habitat selection. Further, we show how the consideration of switching rate between habitat patches (interpatch movements) together with residency-time analysis can reveal habitat-selection strategies.

2. Spatially explicit, individual-based modelling was used to simulate foragers displaying one of six foraging strategies in a heterogeneous environment. The strategies combined one of three patch-departure rules (fixed-quitting-harvest-rate, fixed-time and fixed-amount strategy), together with one of two interpatch-movement rules (random or biased). Habitat selection of simulated foragers was then assessed using RSF, residency-time and interpatch-movement analyses.

3. Our simulations showed that RSFs and residency times are not always equivalent. When foragers move in a non-random manner and do not increase residency time in richer patches, residency-time analysis can provide misleading assessments of habitat selection. This is because the overall time spent in the various patch types not only depends on residency times, but also on interpatch-movement decisions.

4. We suggest that RSFs provide the outcome of the entire selection process, whereas residency-time and interpatch-movement analyses can be used in combination to reveal the mechanisms behind the selection process.

5. We showed that there is a risk in using residency-time analysis alone to infer habitat selection. Residency-time analyses, however, may enlighten the mechanisms of habitat selection by revealing central components of resource-use strategies. Given that management decisions are often based on resource-selection analyses, the evaluation of resource-use strategies can be key information for the development of efficient habitat-management strategies. Combining RSF, residency-time and interpatch-movement analyses is a simple and efficient way to gain a more comprehensive understanding of habitat selection.