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Data from: Scale-dependent home range optimality for a solitary omnivore

Cite this dataset

Gantchoff, Mariela; Wang, Guiming; Beyer, Dean; Belant, Jerrold (2019). Data from: Scale-dependent home range optimality for a solitary omnivore [Dataset]. Dryad.


Spatial and temporal heterogeneity are fundamental mechanisms structuring home ranges. Under optimality, an individual should structure their space use economically to maximize fitness. We evaluated support for three hypotheses related to range optimality in American black bears (Ursus americanus), predicting (1) range location on a landscape will correspond with high vegetation productivity, (2) increasing forest fragmentation will result in larger ranges, and (3) increasing proportion of forest and/or mean vegetation productivity will result in smaller ranges. We used black bear radio telemetry data from Michigan (2009-2015), Missouri (2010-2016) and Mississippi (2008-2017), USA. Annual space use excluded winter, and we separated seasonal space use into spring, summer, and fall. We collected data from 143 bears (80 females, 63 males), resulting in 97 annual and 538 seasonal ranges. We used generalized linear mixed models to evaluate productivity (estimated through Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, NDVI) selection, and range size (km2) variation between individuals. At the annual scale, black bears consistently selected areas with greater vegetation productivity than the surrounding landscape; yet selection weakened and was more variable seasonally. Opposite to our prediction, we found that increasing fragmentation consistently resulted in smaller ranges; non-forested land covers and forest edges might provide greater abundance or more diverse foods for bears. Ranges with a greater proportion of forest were smaller, likely reflecting an increase in food and cover which could reduce movements, yet there was no support for more productive ranges also being smaller as expected from an area minimizing strategy. Black bears displayed a scale-dependent space use strategy: at larger spatial and temporal scales, productivity acted as the strongest limiting factor and energy maximizing was the dominant strategy, while an area minimizing strategy was exhibited seasonally. We revealed consistent, scale-dependent responses by black bears to environmental conditions, demonstrating the intrinsic plasticity of this adaptable omnivore.

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North America