We have developed a habitat selection model based on central place foraging theory. An individual's decision to include a patch in its habitat depends on the marginal fitness contribution of that patch, which is characterized by its quality and distance to the central place. The essence of the model we have developed is a fitness isocline which is a function of patch quality and travel time to the patch. It has two parameters: the maximum travel distance to a patch of infinite quality and a coefficient that appropriately scales quality by travel time. Patches falling below the isocline will have positive marginal fitness values and should be included in the habitat. The maximum travel distance depends on the availability and quality of patches, as well as on the forager's life history, whereas the scaling parameter mostly depends on life history properties. Using the model, we derived a landscape quality metric (which can be thought of as a connectivity measure) that sums the values of available habitat in the landscape around a central place. We then fitted the two parameters to foraging data on breeding white storks (Ciconia ciconia) and estimated landscape quality, which correlated strongly with reproductive success. Landscape quality was then calculated for a larger region where re-introduction of the species is currently going on in order to demonstrate how this model can also be regarded as a species distribution model. In conclusion, we have built a general habitat selection model for central place foragers and a novel way of estimating landscape quality based on a behaviorally scaled connectivity metric.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Earth and Related Environmental Sciences