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Individual variation in temporal dynamics of post-release habitat selection

September 3, 2021

Translocated animals undergo a phase of behavioral adjustment after being released in a novel environment, initially prioritizing exploration and gradually shifting toward resource exploitation. This transition has been termed post-release behavioral modification. Post-release behavioral modification may also manifest as changes in habitat selection through time, and these temporal dynamics may differ between individuals. We aimed to evaluate how post-release behavioral modification is reflected in temporal dynamics of habitat selection and its variability across individuals using a population of translocated female greater sage-grouse as a case study. Sage-grouse were translocated from Wyoming to North Dakota (USA) during the summers of 2018–2020. We analyzed individual habitat selection as a function of sagebrush cover, herbaceous cover, slope, and distance to roads. Herbaceous cover is a key foraging resource for sage-grouse during summer; thus, we expected a shift from exploration to exploitation to manifest as temporally-varying selection for herbaceous cover. For each individual sage-grouse (N = 26), we tested two competing models: a null model with no time-dependence and a model with time-dependent selection for herbaceous cover. We performed model selection at the individual level using an information-theoretic approach. Time-dependence was supported for five individuals, unsupported for seven, and the two models were indistinguishable based on AICc for the remaining fourteen. We found no association between the top-ranked model and individual reproductive status (brood-rearing or not). We showed that temporal dynamics of post-release habitat selection may emerge in some individuals but not in others, and that failing to account for time-dependence may hinder the detection of steady-state habitat selection patterns. These findings demonstrate the need to consider both temporal dynamics and individual variability in habitat selection when conducting post-release monitoring to inform translocation protocols.

Publication Year 2021
Title Individual variation in temporal dynamics of post-release habitat selection
DOI 10.3389/fcosc.2021.703906
Authors Simona Picardi, Nathan Ranc, Brian J. Smith, Peter S. Coates, Steven R. Mathews, David K. Dahlgren
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Frontiers in Conservation Science
Index ID 70225501
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center