Long-term density-dependent changes in habitat selection in red deer (Cervus elaphus)

Pérez-Barbería, F.J., Hooper, R.J., and Gordon, I.J. (2013) Long-term density-dependent changes in habitat selection in red deer (Cervus elaphus). Oecologia, 173 (3). pp. 837-847.

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Understanding how habitat selection changes with population density is a key concept in population regulation, community composition and managing impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services. At low density, it is expected that individuals select habitats in terms of their preference, but as population density increases, the availability of resources per individual declines on preferred habitats, leading to competition which forces some individuals to exploit less preferred habitats. Using spatial information of Scottish red deer (Cervus elaphus) winter counts, carried out in 110 areas across Scotland between 1961 and 2004 (a total of 1,206,495 deer observations), we showed how winter habitat niche breadth in red deer has widened with increasing population density. Heather moorland and montane habitats were most and least preferred for deer, respectively. Increasing density favoured the selection of grassland, to the detriment of the selection of heather moorland. The selection of heather and grassland decreased when temperature increased, while the selection of montane and peatland habitats increased. These findings are important for understanding how habitat use, density and population are likely to be affected by weather, and allow us to predict habitat impacts by large mammal herbivory and climate.

Item ID: 42431
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-1939
Keywords: habitat use, niche breadth, population dynamics, spatial analysis
Funders: Rural and Environmental Research and Analysis Directorate (RERAD)
Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2016 15:12
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales @ 100%
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