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Data from: Resampling method for applying density-dependent habitat selection theory to wildlife surveys

Cite this dataset

Tardy, Olivia; Massé, Ariane; Pelletier, Fanie; Fortin, Daniel (2016). Data from: Resampling method for applying density-dependent habitat selection theory to wildlife surveys [Dataset]. Dryad.


Isodar theory can be used to evaluate fitness consequences of density-dependent habitat selection by animals. A typical habitat isodar is a regression curve plotting competitor densities in two adjacent habitats when individual fitness is equal. Despite the increasing use of habitat isodars, their application remains largely limited to areas composed of pairs of adjacent habitats that are defined a priori. We developed a resampling method that uses data from wildlife surveys to build isodars in heterogeneous landscapes without having to predefine habitat types. The method consists in randomly placing blocks over the survey area and dividing those blocks in two adjacent sub-blocks of the same size. Animal abundance is then estimated within the two sub-blocks. This process is done 100 times. Different functional forms of isodars can be investigated by relating animal abundance and differences in habitat features between sub-blocks. We applied this method to abundance data of raccoons and striped skunks, two of the main hosts of rabies virus in North America. Habitat selection by raccoons and striped skunks depended on both conspecific abundance and the difference in landscape composition and structure between sub-blocks. When conspecific abundance was low, raccoons and striped skunks favored areas with relatively high proportions of forests and anthropogenic features, respectively. Under high conspecific abundance, however, both species preferred areas with rather large corn-forest edge densities and corn field proportions. Based on random sampling techniques, we provide a robust method that is applicable to a broad range of species, including medium- to large-sized mammals with high mobility. The method is sufficiently flexible to incorporate multiple environmental covariates that can reflect key requirements of the focal species. We thus illustrate how isodar theory can be used with wildlife surveys to assess density-dependent habitat selection over large geographic extents.

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Montérégie and Estrie