Animal movement in dynamic landscapes: interaction between behavioural strategies and resource distributions

David Roshier, Veronica Doerr, Erik Doerr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

83 Citations (Scopus)


Most ecological and evolutionary processes are thought to critically depend on dispersal and individual movement but there is little empirical information on the movement strategies used by animals to find resources. In particular, it is unclear whether behavioural variation exists at all scales, or whether behavioural decisions are primarily made at small spatial scales and thus broad scale patterns of movement simply reflect underlying resource distributions. We evaluated animal movement responses to variable resource distributions using the grey teal (Anas gracilis) in agricultural and desert landscapes in Australia as a model system. Birds in the two landscapes differed in the fractal dimension (D) of their movement paths, with teal in the desert landscape moving less tortuously overall than their counterparts in the agricultural landscape. However, the most striking result was the high levels of individual variability in movement strategies, with different animals exhibiting different responses to the same resources. Teal in the agricultural basin moved with both high and low tortuosity, while teal in the desert basin primarily moved using low levels of tortuosity. These results call into question the idea that broad scale movement patterns simply reflect underlying resource distributions, and suggest that movement responses in some animals may be behaviourally complex regardless of the spatial scale over which movement occurs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-477
Number of pages13
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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