Defining null expectations for animal site fidelity

Picardi, S., Abrahms, B., Gelzer, E., Morrison, T. A. , Verzuh, T. and Merkle, J. A. (2023) Defining null expectations for animal site fidelity. Ecology Letters, 26(1), pp. 157-169. (doi: 10.1111/ele.14148) (PMID:36453059)

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Site fidelity—the tendency to return to previously visited locations—is widespread across taxa. Returns may be driven by several mechanisms, including memory, habitat selection, or chance; however, pattern-based definitions group different generating mechanisms under the same label of ‘site fidelity’, often assuming memory as the main driver. We propose an operational definition of site fidelity as patterns of return that deviate from a null expectation derived from a memory-free movement model. First, using agent-based simulations, we show that without memory, intrinsic movement characteristics and extrinsic landscape characteristics are key determinants of return patterns and that even random movements may generate substantial probabilities of return. Second, we illustrate how to implement our framework empirically to establish ecologically meaningful, system-specific null expectations for site fidelity. Our approach provides a conceptual and operational framework to test hypotheses on site fidelity across systems and scales.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Morrison, Dr Thomas
Authors: Picardi, S., Abrahms, B., Gelzer, E., Morrison, T. A., Verzuh, T., and Merkle, J. A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Ecology Letters
ISSN (Online):1461-0248
Published Online:01 December 2022

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
309543Transport and trophic effects of migratory ungulates on infectious disease hotspotsThomas MorrisonBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)BB/V004484/1Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine