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Interannual variability: a crucial component of space use at the territory level
School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan, USA.
2015 (English)In: Ecology, ISSN 0012-9658, E-ISSN 1939-9170, Vol. 96, no 1, 62-70 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Interannual variability in space use and how that variation is influenced by density-dependent and density-independent factors are important processes in population ecology. Nevertheless, interannual variability has been neglected by the majority of space use studies. We assessed that variation for wolves living in 15 different packs within Yellowstone National Park during a 13-year period (1996–2008). We estimated utilization distributions to quantify the intensity of space use within each pack's territory each year in summer and winter. Then, we used the volume of intersection index (VI) to quantify the extent to which space use varied from year to year. This index accounts for both the area of overlap and differences in the intensity of use throughout a territory and ranges between 0 and 1. The mean VI index was 0.49, and varied considerably, with ~20% of observations (n = 230) being <0.3 or >0.7. In summer, 42% of the variation was attributable to differences between packs. These differences can be attributable to learned behaviors and had never been thought to have such an influence on space use. In winter, 34% of the variation in overlap between years was attributable to interannual differences in precipitation and pack size. This result reveals the strong influence of climate on predator space use and underlies the importance of understanding how climatic factors are going to affect predator populations in the occurrence of climate change. We did not find any significant association between overlap and variables representing density-dependent processes (elk and wolf densities) or intraspecific competition (ratio of wolves to elk). This last result poses a challenge to the classic view of predator–prey systems. On a small spatial scale, predator space use may be driven by factors other than prey distribution.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Wiley-Blackwell, 2015. Vol. 96, no 1, 62-70 p.
Keyword [en]
Canis lupus, climate change, density-dependent space use, interannual variability, predator-prey relationship, space use, utilization distribution, volume of intersection, wolf packs, Yellowstone National Park, USA
National Category
Environmental Sciences Ecology
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-109268DOI: 10.1890/13-2116.1.smISI: 000349198900009PubMedID: 26236891OAI: diva2:856179
Available from: 2015-09-23 Created: 2015-09-23 Last updated: 2016-03-10Bibliographically approved

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Uboni, Alessia
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