What determines variation in home range size across spatiotemporal scales in a large browsing herbivore?

Authors

  • Floris M. van Beest,

    Corresponding author
    1. Faculty of Applied Ecology and Agricultural Sciences, Hedmark University College, Evenstad, NO-2480 Koppang, Norway
    2. Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of Biology, University of Oslo, PO Box 1066, Blindern, NO-0316 Oslo, Norway
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  • Inger M. Rivrud,

    1. Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of Biology, University of Oslo, PO Box 1066, Blindern, NO-0316 Oslo, Norway
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  • Leif E. Loe,

    1. Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of Biology, University of Oslo, PO Box 1066, Blindern, NO-0316 Oslo, Norway
    2. Department of Ecology and Natural Resource Management, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, PO Box 5003, NO-1432 Aas, Norway
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  • Jos M. Milner,

    1. Faculty of Applied Ecology and Agricultural Sciences, Hedmark University College, Evenstad, NO-2480 Koppang, Norway
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  • Atle Mysterud

    1. Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of Biology, University of Oslo, PO Box 1066, Blindern, NO-0316 Oslo, Norway
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Correspondence author. E-mail: floris.vanbeest@hihm.no

Summary

1. Most studies of intraspecific variation in home range size have investigated only a single or a few factors and often at one specific scale. However, considering multiple spatial and temporal scales when defining a home range is important as mechanisms that affect variation in home range size may differ depending on the scale under investigation.

2. We aim to quantify the relative effect of various individual, forage and climatic determinants of variation in home range size across multiple spatiotemporal scales in a large browsing herbivore, the moose (Alces alces), living at the southern limit of its distribution in Norway.

3. Total home range size and core home range areas were estimated for daily to monthly scales in summer and winter using both local convex hull (LoCoH) and fixed kernel home range methods. Variance in home range size was analysed using linear mixed-effects models for repeated measurements.

4. Reproductive status was the most influential individual-level factor explaining variance in moose home range size, with females accompanied by a calf having smaller summer ranges across all scales. Variation in home range size was strongly correlated with spatiotemporal changes in quantity and quality of natural food resources. Home range size decreased with increasing browse density at daily scales, but the relationship changed to positive at longer temporal scales. In contrast, browse quality was consistently negatively correlated with home range size except at the monthly scale during winter when depletion of high-quality forage occurs. Local climate affected total home range size more than core areas. Temperature, precipitation and snow depth influenced home range size directly at short temporal scales.

5. The relative effects of intrinsic and extrinsic determinants of variation in home range size differed with spatiotemporal scale, providing clear evidence that home range size is scale dependent in this large browser. Insight into the behavioural responses of populations to climatic stochasticity and forage variability is essential in view of current and future climate change, especially for populations with thermoregulatory restrictions living at the southern limit of their distribution.

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