Friday, August 11, 8:00-11:30 am
COS 108 - Species movement and dispersal
L-5, L-6, L-7, Lobby Level, Cook Convention Center
Presiders: A Boyle

Modeling wolf movement in a heterogeneous landscape.

Mckenzie, Hannah *,1, Lewis, Mark1, Merrill, Evelyn1, 1 University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

ABSTRACT- Linear features, such as seismic lines and roads, are common features of human disturbed landscapes. It is hypothesized that linear features act as movement corridors, allowing animals to travel faster and more efficiently throughout the landscape. While little work has been done, it is often believed that an increase in linear feature density will lead to an increase in predation rates. Using wolves as a case study, we first analyze empirical movement data to understand how wolves respond to linear features through changes in movement. Winter movement data was obtained from GPS collars on wolves in the central east slopes of the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. Our data support previous findings that wolves move faster on seismic lines than in forests, and suggest that movements may not be biased toward or along linear features. To further investigate the links between local wolf responses to linear features, landscape-level movement patterns, and prey encounter rates, we develop an advection-diffusion model for mean transit time. Mean transit time describes the expected animal encounter rate with landscape features, including encounters with prey. The model is based on distributions of step lengths and turning angles, and is spatially explicit, allowing the incorporation of heterogeneity in animal movement. We parameterize the model for wolves in the Rockies, and use it determine how various configurations and densities of linear features affect the mean transit time. Our results suggest that movement on linear features has implications for predator-prey interactions.

Key words: behavioral movement models, wolves, partial differential equations

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