Group-size-mediated habitat selection and group fusion-fission dynamics of bison under predation risk

Fortin, Daniel, Fortin, Marie-Eve, Beyer, Hawthorne L., Duchesne, Thierry, Courant, Sabrina and Dancose, Karine (2009) Group-size-mediated habitat selection and group fusion-fission dynamics of bison under predation risk. Ecology, 90 9: 2480-2490. doi:10.1890/08-0345.1

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Author Fortin, Daniel
Fortin, Marie-Eve
Beyer, Hawthorne L.
Duchesne, Thierry
Courant, Sabrina
Dancose, Karine
Title Group-size-mediated habitat selection and group fusion-fission dynamics of bison under predation risk
Journal name Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0012-9658
Publication date 2009-01-01
Year available 2009
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1890/08-0345.1
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 90
Issue 9
Start page 2480
End page 2490
Total pages 11
Place of publication Ithaca, NY United States
Publisher Ecological Society of America
Language eng
Abstract For gregarious animals the cost-benefit trade-offs that drive habitat selection may vary dynamically with group size, which plays an important role in foraging and predator avoidance strategies. We examined how habitat selection by bison (Bison bison) varied as a function of group size and interpreted these patterns by testing whether habitat selection was more strongly driven by the competing demands of forage intake vs. predator avoidance behavior. We developed an analytical framework that integrated group size into resource selection functions (RSFs). These group-size-dependent RSFs were based on a matched casecontrol design and were estimated using conditional logistic regression (mixed and populationaveraged models). Fitting RSF models to bison revealed that bison groups responded to multiple aspects of landscape heterogeneity and that selection varied seasonally and as a function of group size. For example, roads were selected in summer, but not in winter. Bison groups avoided areas of high snow water equivalent in winter. They selected areas composed of a large proportion of meadow area within a 700-m radius, and within those areas, bison selected meadows. Importantly, the strength of selection for meadows varied as a function of group size, with stronger selection being observed in larger groups. Hence the bison-habitat relationship depended in part on the dynamics of group formation and division. Group formation was most likely in meadows. In contrast, risk of group fission increased when bison moved into the forest and was higher during the time of day when movements are generally longer and more variable among individuals. We also found that stronger selection for meadows by large rather than small bison groups was caused by longer residence time in individual meadows by larger groups and that departure from meadows appears unlikely to result from a depression in food intake rate. These group-size-dependent patterns were consistent with the hypothesis that avoidance of predation risk is the strongest driver of habitat selection.
Keyword Bison bison
Conditional logistic regression
Exploitative competition
Free ranging plains bison
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 104 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Sat, 31 May 2014, 02:09:33 EST by Hawthorne Beyer on behalf of School of Biological Sciences