Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Home range


Feeding stations are commonly used to sustain conservation programs of scavengers but their impact on behaviour is still debated. They increase the temporal and spatial predictability of food resources while scavengers have supposedly evolved to search for unpredictable resources. In the Grands Causses (France), a reintroduced population of Griffon vultures Gyps fulvus can find carcasses at three types of sites: 1. “light feeding stations”, where farmers can drop carcasses at their farm (spatially predictable), 2. “heavy feeding stations”, where carcasses from nearby farms are concentrated (spatially and temporally predictable) and 3. open grasslands, where resources are randomly distributed (unpredictable). The impact of feeding stations on vulture’s foraging behaviour was investigated using 28 GPS-tracked vultures. The average home range size was maximal in spring (1272±752 km(2)) and minimal in winter (473±237 km(2)) and was highly variable among individuals. Analyses of home range characteristics and feeding habitat selection via compositional analysis showed that feeding stations were always preferred compared to the rest of the habitat where vultures can find unpredictable resources. Feeding stations were particularly used when resources were scarce (summer) or when flight conditions were poor (winter), limiting long-ranging movements. However, when flight conditions were optimal, home ranges also encompassed large areas of grassland where vultures could find unpredictable resources, suggesting that vultures did not lose their natural ability to forage on unpredictable resources, even when feeding stations were available. However during seasons when food abundance and flight conditions were not limited, vultures seemed to favour light over heavy feeding stations, probably because of the reduced intraspecific competition and a pattern closer to the natural dispersion of resources in the landscape. Light feeding stations are interesting tools for managing food resources, but don’t prevent vultures to feed at other places with possibly high risk of intoxication (poison).

Concepts: Intraspecific competition, Scarcity, Foraging, Winter, Vulture, Gyps, Griffon Vulture, Home range


Animal home ranges may vary little in their size and location in the short term but nevertheless show more variability in the long term. We evaluated the degree of site fidelity of two groups of spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) over a 10- and 13-year period, respectively, in the northeastern Yucatan peninsula, Mexico. We used the Local Convex Hull method to estimate yearly home ranges and core areas (defined as the 60% probability contour) for the two groups. Home ranges varied from 7.7 to 49.6 ha and core areas varied from 3.1 to 9.2 ha. We evaluated the degree of site fidelity by quantifying the number of years in which different areas were used as either home ranges or core areas. Large tracts were used only as home ranges and only for a few years, whereas small areas were used as either core area or home range for the duration of the study. The sum of the yearly core areas coincided partially with the yearly home ranges, indicating that home ranges contain areas used intermittently. Home ranges, and especially core areas, contained a higher proportion of mature forest than the larger study site as a whole. Across years and only in one group, the size of core areas was positively correlated with the proportion of adult males in the group, while the size of home ranges was positively correlated with both the proportion of males and the number of tree species included in the diet. Our findings suggest that spider monkey home ranges are the result of a combination of long-term site fidelity and year-to-year use variation to enable exploration of new resources.

Concepts: Time, Primate, Term, Atelidae, Home range, Spider monkey, Geoffroy's Spider Monkey, Black-headed Spider Monkey


We have analyzed the ranging patterns of the Mimikire group (M group) of chimpanzees in the Mahale Mountains National Park, Tanzania. During 16 years, the chimpanzees moved over a total area of 25.2 or 27.4 km(2), as estimated by the grid-cell or minimum convex polygon (MCP) methods, respectively. Annually, the M group used an average of 18.4 km(2), or approximately 70 %, of the total home-range area. The chimpanzees had used 80 % of their total home range after 5 years and 95 % after 11 years. M group chimpanzees were observed more than half of the time in areas that composed only 15 % of their total home range. Thus, they typically moved over limited areas, visiting other parts of their range only occasionally. On average, the chimpanzees used 7.6 km(2) (in MCP) per month. Mean monthly range size was smallest at the end of the rainy season and largest at the end of the dry season, but there was much variability from year to year. The chimpanzees used many of the same areas every year when Saba comorensis fruits were abundant between August and January. In contrast, the chimpanzees used several different areas of their range in June. Here range overlap between years was relatively small. Over the 16 years of the study we found that the M group reduced their use of the northern part of their range and increased their frequency of visits to the eastern mountainous side of their home range. Changes in home-range size correlated positively with the number of adult females but not with the number of adult males. This finding does not support a prediction of the male-defended territory model proposed for some East African chimpanzee unit-groups.

Concepts: Human, Mathematics, Tropics, Vector space, Chimpanzee, Tanzania, Wet season, Home range


I used radio-telemetry to track the movements of Mangrove Cuckoos (Coccyzus minor) captured in southwest Florida. Relatively little is known about the natural history of Mangrove Cuckoos, and my goal was to provide an initial description of how individuals use space, with a focus on the size and placement of home ranges. I captured and affixed VHF radio-transmitters to 32 individuals between 2012 and 2015, and obtained a sufficient number of relocations from 16 of them to estimate home-range boundaries and describe patterns of movement. Home-range area varied widely among individuals, but in general was roughly four times larger than expected based on the body size of Mangrove Cuckoos. The median core area (50% isopleth) of a home range was 42 ha (range: 9-91 ha), and the median overall home range (90% isopleth) was 128 ha (range: 28-319 ha). The median distance between estimated locations recorded on subsequent days was 298 m (95% CI [187 m-409 m]), but variation within and among individuals was substantial, and it was not uncommon to relocate individuals >1 km from their location on the previous day. Site fidelity by individual birds was low; although Mangrove Cuckoos were present year-round within the study area, I did not observe any individuals that remained on a single home range throughout the year. Although individual birds showed no evidence of avoiding anthropogenic edges, they did not incorporate developed areas into their daily movements and home ranges consisted almost entirely of mangrove forest. The persistence of the species in the study area depended on a network of conserved lands-mostly public, but some privately conserved land as well-because large patches of mangrove forest did not occur on tracts left unprotected from development.

Concepts: Cuckoo, Estimation, Individual, Individual rights, Mangrove, Home range, Coccyzus, Mangrove Cuckoo


Top-predators around the world are becoming increasingly intertwined with humans, sometimes causing conflict and increasing safety risks in urban areas. In Australia, dingoes and dingo×domesticdoghybridsarecommoninmanyurbanareas,andposeavarietyofhumanhealth and safety risks. However, data on urban dingo ecology is scant. We GPS-collared 37 dingoes in north-easternAustraliaandcontinuouslymonitoredthemeach30minfor11-394days. Mostdingoes were nocturnal, with an overall mean home range size of 17.47 km2. Overall mean daily distance travelled was 6.86 km/day. At all times dingoes were within 1000 m of houses and buildings. Home ranges appeared to be constrained to patches of suitable vegetation fragments within and around human habitation. These data can be used to reallocate dingo management effort towards mitigating actual conflicts between humans and dingoes in urban areas.

Concepts: Australia, Canidae, House, Canis, Dingo, Home range, Thylacine, New Guinea Singing Dog


We investigated effects of roost loss due to clear-fell harvest on bat home range. The study took place in plantation forest, inhabited by the New Zealand long-tailed bat (Chalinolobus tuberculatus), in which trees are harvested between the ages 26-32 years. We determined home ranges by radiotracking different bats in areas that had and had not been recently clear-fell harvested. Home ranges were smaller in areas that had been harvested. Adult male bats selected 20-25 year old stands within home ranges before and after harvest. Males selected edges with open unplanted areas when harvest had not occurred but no longer selected these at proportions greater than their availability post harvest, probably because they were then readily available. This is the first radiotracking study to demonstrate a change in home range size and selection concomitant with felling of large areas of plantation forest, and thus quantify negative effects of forestry operations on this speciose group. The use of smaller home ranges post-harvest may reflect smaller colony sizes and lower roost availability, both of which may increase isolation of colonies and vulnerability to local extinction.

Concepts: Insect, Forestry, Bat, Colonialism, Bats, Home range, Colony, New Zealand Long-tailed Bat


Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus movements were investigated in southern Africa to determine whether an individual’s age, sex or breeding status influenced its ranging behaviour and to provide the information required to guide conservation activities. Data from satellite transmitters fitted to 18 individuals of four age classes were used to determine range size and use. Because of the nature of the movements of marked individuals, these data could be used to determine the overall foraging range of the entire population, which was estimated to be 51 767 km2. Although juvenile, immature and sub-adult birds used different parts of the overall range, their combined foraging range was 65% (33 636 km2) of the overall range. Average adult home ranges (286 km2) were only around 1% the size of the average foraging ranges of non-adults (10 540 -25 985 km2), with those of breeding adults being even smaller (95 km2). Home ranges of breeding adults did not vary in size between seasons but adults utilized their home range more intensively whilst breeding, moving greater distances during the incubation and chick hatching period. Range size and use increased as non-adults aged. Immatures and sub-adults had larger range sizes during winter, but range use of non-adults did not vary seasonally. Range size and use did not differ between the sexes in any of the age classes. Information on home range size and use enables specific areas within the species' range to be targeted for management planning, education and conservation action.

Concepts: Africa, Population, Bird, Home range, Accipitridae, Bearded Vulture


Degradation and alteration of natural environments because of agriculture and other land uses have major consequences on vertebrate populations, particularly on spatial organization and movement patterns. We used GPS tracking to study the effect of land use and sex on the home range size and movement of a typical model species, the Ethiopian hedgehogs. We used free-ranging hedgehogs from two areas with different land use practices: 24 from an area dominated by irrigated farms (12 ♂♂, 12 ♀♀) and 22 from a natural desert environment within a biosphere reserve (12 ♂♂, 10 ♀♀). Animals were significantly heavier in the resource-rich irrigated farms area (417.71 ±12.77SE g) in comparison to the natural desert area (376.37±12.71SE g). Both habitat and sex significantly influenced the home range size of hedgehogs. Home ranges were larger in the reserve than in the farms area. Total home ranges averaged 103 ha (±17 SE) for males and 42 ha (±11SE) for females in the farms area, but were much larger in the reserve averaging 230 ha (±33 SE) for males and 150 ha (±29 SE) for females. The home ranges of individuals of both sexes overlapped. Although females were heavier than males, body weight had no effect on home range size. The results suggest that resources provided in the farms (e.g. food, water, and shelters) influenced animal density and space use. Females aggregated around high-resource areas (either farms or rawdhats), whereas males roamed over greater distances, likely in search of mating opportunities to maximize reproductive success. Most individual home ranges overlapped with many other individuals of either sex, suggesting a non-territorial, promiscuous mating. Patterns of space use and habitat utilization are key factors in shaping aspects of reproductive biology and mating system. To minimize the impacts of agriculture on local wildlife, we recommend that biodiversity-friendly agro-environmental schemes be introduced in the Middle East where the transformation from dry lands to ‘islands of fertility’ is often extreme.

Concepts: Male, Reproduction, Female, Sex, Hermaphrodite, Land use, Home range, Promiscuity


The development of GPS tags for tracking wildlife has revolutionised the study of home ranges, habitat use and behaviour. Concomitantly, there have been rapid developments in methods for estimating habitat use from GPS data. In combination, these changes can cause challenges in choosing the best methods for estimating home ranges. In primatology, this issue has received little attention, as there have been few GPS collar-based studies to date. However, as advancing technology is making collaring studies more feasible, there is a need for the analysis to advance alongside the technology. Here, using a high quality GPS collaring data set from 10 proboscis monkeys (Nasalis larvatus), we aimed to: 1) compare home range estimates from the most commonly used method in primatology, the grid-cell method, with three recent methods designed for large and/or temporally correlated GPS data sets; 2) evaluate how well these methods identify known physical barriers (e.g. rivers); and 3) test the robustness of the different methods to data containing either less frequent or random losses of GPS fixes. Biased random bridges had the best overall performance, combining a high level of agreement between the raw data and estimated utilisation distribution with a relatively low sensitivity to reduced fixed frequency or loss of data. It estimated the home range of proboscis monkeys to be 24-165 ha (mean 80.89 ha). The grid-cell method and approaches based on local convex hulls had some advantages including simplicity and excellent barrier identification, respectively, but lower overall performance. With the most suitable model, or combination of models, it is possible to understand more fully the patterns, causes, and potential consequences that disturbances could have on an animal, and accordingly be used to assist in the management and restoration of degraded landscapes.

Concepts: Statistics, Primate, Home range, Proboscis Monkey


Investigating animal energy expenditure across space and time may provide more detailed insight into how animals interact with their environment. This insight should improve our understanding of how changes in the environment affect animal energy budgets and is particularly relevant for animals living near or within human altered environments where habitat change can occur rapidly. We modeled fisher (Pekania pennanti) energy expenditure within their home ranges and investigated the potential environmental and spatial drivers of the predicted spatial patterns. As a proxy for energy expenditure we used overall dynamic body acceleration (ODBA) that we quantified from tri-axial accelerometer data during the active phases of 12 individuals. We used a generalized additive model (GAM) to investigate the spatial distribution of ODBA by associating the acceleration data to the animals' GPS-recorded locations. We related the spatial patterns of ODBA to the utilization distributions and habitat suitability estimates across individuals. The ODBA of fishers appears highly structured in space and was related to individual utilization distribution and habitat suitability estimates. However, we were not able to predict ODBA using the environmental data we selected. Our results suggest an unexpected complexity in the space use of animals that was only captured partially by re-location data-based concepts of home range and habitat suitability. We suggest future studies recognize the limits of ODBA that arise from the fact that acceleration is often collected at much finer spatio-temporal scales than the environmental data and that ODBA lacks a behavioral correspondence. Overcoming these limits would improve the interpretation of energy expenditure in relation to the environment.

Concepts: Time, Environment, Physics, General relativity, Futurology, Natural environment, Classical mechanics, Home range