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Movement behavior in response to landscape structure: the role of functional grain

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Landscape structure can influence the fine-scale movement behavior of dispersing animals, which ultimately may influence ecological patterns and processes at broader scales. Functional grain refers to the finest scale at which an organism responds to spatial heterogeneity among patches and extends to the limits of its perceptual range. To determine the functional grain of a model insect, red flour beetle (Tribolium castaneum), we examined its movement behavior in response to experimental flour landscapes. Landscape structure was varied by manipulating habitat abundance (0%, 10%, 30%, and 100%) and grain size of patches (fine-2 x 2 cm, intermediate-5 x 5 cm, and coarse-10 x 10 cm) in 50 x 50 cm landscapes. Pathway metrics indicated that beetles used a similar proportion of all landscape types. Several pathway metrics indicated a graded response from the fine to the coarse grain landscape. Lacunarity analysis of beetle pathways indicated a non-linear change in space use between the fine and intermediate landscapes and the coarse-grained landscape. Beetles moved more slowly and tortuously (with many turns), and remained longer in both the overall landscape and individual patches, in fine-grained compared to coarse-grained landscapes. Our research demonstrates how detailed examination of movement pathways and measures of lacunarity can be useful in determining functional grain. Spatially explicit, organism-centered studies focusing on behavioral responses to different habitat configurations can serve as an important first step to identify behavioral rules of movement that may ultimately lead to more accurate predictions of space use in landscapes.
Romero, Susan , Campbell, James F. , Nechols, James R. , With, Kimberly A.
Includes references
Landscape ecology 2009 Jan., v. 24, no. 1
Springer Netherlands
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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