The interpretation of habitat preference metrics under use-availability designs

Beyer, H.L., Haydon, D.T. , Morales, J.M., Frair, J.L., Hebblewhite, M., Mitchell, M. and Matthiopoulos, J. (2010) The interpretation of habitat preference metrics under use-availability designs. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 365(1550), pp. 2245-2254. (doi:10.1098/rstb.2010.0083)

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Abstract

Models of habitat preference are widely used to quantify animal-habitat relationships, to describe and predict differential space use by animals, and to identify habitat that is important to an animal (i.e. that is assumed to influence fitness). Quantifying habitat preference involves the statistical comparison of samples of habitat use and availability. Preference is therefore contingent upon both of these samples. The inferences that can be made from use versus availability designs are influenced by subjectivity in defining what is available to the animal, the problem of quantifying the accessibility of available resources and the framework in which preference is modelled. Here, we describe these issues, document the conditional nature of preference and establish the limits of inferences that can be drawn from these analyses. We argue that preference is not interpretable as reflecting the intrinsic behavioural motivations of the animal, that estimates of preference are not directly comparable among different samples of availability and that preference is not necessarily correlated with the value of habitat to the animal. We also suggest that preference is context-dependent and that functional responses in preference resulting from changing availability are expected. We conclude by describing advances in analytical methods that begin to resolve these issues.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Haydon, Professor Daniel and Beyer, Mr Hawthorne and Matthiopoulos, Professor Jason
Authors: Beyer, H.L., Haydon, D.T., Morales, J.M., Frair, J.L., Hebblewhite, M., Mitchell, M., and Matthiopoulos, J.
Subjects:Q Science > QL Zoology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
ISSN:0962-8436
ISSN (Online):1471-2970

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
435701Controlling infectious disease in wildlife populationsDaniel HaydonLeverhulme Trust (LEVERHULME)F/00 179/AIInstitute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine