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Keywords:

  • biotelemetry;
  • breeding habitat choice;
  • dispersal decisions;
  • individual strategies;
  • social information;
  • spatial population ecology

Summary

  1. Prospecting allows individuals to gather information on the local quality of potential future breeding sites. In a variable and heterogeneous environment, it plays a major role in breeding habitat selection and potentially helps individuals make optimal dispersal decisions. Although prospecting movements, involving visits to other breeding sites, have been observed in many species at relatively fine spatial scales, little is known about their occurrence at larger scales. Furthermore, the adaptive value of dispersal strategies in response to environmental changes remains poorly investigated.
  2. Here, our main objective is to highlight in what ways tracking devices could constitute powerful tools to study prospecting behaviour at various spatial scales. First, we stress the importance of considering prospecting movements involved in breeding habitat selection and we detail the type of data that can be collected. Then, we review the advantages and constraints associated with the use of tracking devices in this context, and we suggest new perspectives to investigate the behavioural strategies adopted by individuals during breeding habitat selection processes and dispersal decisions.
  3. The rapid development of new powerful electronic tools for tracking individual behaviour thus opens a wide range of opportunities. More specifically, it may allow a more thorough understanding of the role of scale-dependent dispersal behaviour in population responses to environmental changes.