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The use of space by animals as a function of accessibility and preference

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Jason Matthiopoulos

School/Research organisations


Heterogeneous usage of space by individual animals or animal populations is partly due to their preference for particular resources that are, themselves. heterogeneously distributed. When all points in the environment are equally accessible, a direct relationship between usage and preference can be assumed. However, when accessibility is restricted, spatial variations in usage can no longer be attributed entirely to preference. In such cases, it is necessary to control for the effects of accessibility on observed usage before conclusions about preference can be drawn. In this paper, I develop a modelling framework that treats the use of space by animals as a joint function of preference and accessibility. I specify a null version of the framework that assumes no preference and propose that its output can be used to control for the effect of accessibility on the observed, spatial distribution of usage. I briefly discuss how the framework can subsequently be used to provide insights about the animals' preference for different resources and types of movement, and to predict usage in areas where no usage data exist. I explore the properties of the methodology using data from a population of simulated animals and present the first results of its application to a sub-set of the British population of grey seals (Halichoerus grypus). (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-268
Number of pages30
JournalEcological Modelling
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2003

    Research areas

  • accessibility restrictions, central-place foragers, home range, grey seals (Halichoerus grypus), habitat preference, habitat availability, models of animal movement, spatial usage, INDIVIDUAL-BASED MODEL, CORRELATED RANDOM-WALK, HOME-RANGE ANALYSIS, SPATIAL-DISTRIBUTION, HABITAT SELECTION, RELATING POPULATIONS, FORAGING MOVEMENTS, RANDOM DIFFUSION, BEHAVIOR, ECOLOGY

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ID: 304870