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Does weather drive habitat use and movement of a non-migratory bird?

Cite this dataset

Neumann, Landon; Davis, Craig; Fuhlendorf, Samuel; Elmore, R. Dwayne (2023). Does weather drive habitat use and movement of a non-migratory bird? [Dataset]. Dryad.


Climate change is predicted to increase the intensity and frequency of weather extremes (e.g., extreme heat and drought), which will likely affect wildlife species in significant ways. Maintaining landscape heterogeneity has been suggested as a potential conservation strategy to buffer animals from weather extremes. Because animal movement influences survival and population connectivity, understanding animal space use and movement in response to shifts in weather is useful for the conservation of wildlife. Non-migratory species are predicted to be more negatively affected by climate change because they have a limited ability to disperse to find resources. We studied the Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus; hereafter, bobwhite) to understand how weather alters habitat use and movement of a non-migratory animal across a landscape. We collected telemetry locations on bobwhite across western Oklahoma during 2019–2020 and paired these data with meteorological and vegetation data. We analyzed the data at 2 temporal scales – hourly locations and 12-hour paths. At the hourly scale, we analyzed tree cover use, shrub cover use, and normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) use using generalized or linear-mixed models. At the 12-hour scale, we calculated three different movement metrics: cumulative distance, net displacement, and sinuosity, and analyzed each movement metric separately using generalized linear-mixed models. We found that bobwhite used denser tree cover and higher NDVI values as air temperature increased in conjunction with solar radiation. Bobwhite used denser shrub cover as air temperature increased and average wind speed was high as well as when air temperature and average wind speed were low. The interaction between variability in vegetation and climate influenced bobwhite movement. Bobwhite in areas with higher NDVI variance moved farther when mean air temperatures were > 0°C than bobwhite in areas with low NDVI variance. When mean air temperatures were ≤ 0°C, NDVI variance had little effect on the cumulative distance moved of bobwhite. Our findings show that some animals use different vegetation types during different weather conditions and that variability in vegetation on the landscape and weather together alters animal movement. Managing for landscape heterogeneity is a solution that may buffer animals from increased climate variability in the future.


Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

Groendyke Endowment

Bollenbach Endowment

Hatch Program, Award: OKL03193