Habitat functional response mitigates reduced foraging opportunity: implications for animal fitness and space use

Garrett M. Street, John Fieberg, Arthur R. Rodgers, Michelle Carstensen, Ron Moen, Seth A. Moore, Steve K. Windels, James D. Forester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Context: Animals selectively use landscapes to meet their energetic needs, and trade-offs in habitat use may depend on availability and environmental conditions. For example, habitat selection at high temperatures may favor thermal cover at the cost of reduced foraging efficiency under consistently warm conditions. Objective: Our objective was to examine habitat selection and space use in distinct populations of moose (Alces alces). Hypothesizing that endotherm fitness is constrained by heat dissipation efficiency, we predicted that southerly populations would exhibit greater selection for thermal cover and reduced selection for foraging habitat. Methods: We estimated individual step selection functions with shrinkage for 134 adult female moose in Minnesota, USA, and 64 in Ontario, Canada, to assess habitat selection with variation in temperature, time of day, and habitat availability. We averaged model coefficients within each site to quantify selection strength for habitats differing in forage availability and thermal cover. Results: Moose in Ontario favored deciduous and mixedwood forest, indicating selection for foraging habitat across both diel and temperature. Habitat selection patterns of moose in Minnesota were more dynamic and indicated time- and temperature-dependent trade-offs between use of foraging habitat and thermal cover. Conclusions: We detected a scale-dependent functional response in habitat selection driven by the trade-off between selection for foraging habitat and thermal cover. Landscape composition and internal state interact to produce complex patterns of space use, and animals exposed to increasingly high temperatures may mitigate fitness losses from reduced foraging efficiency by increasing selection for foraging habitat in sub-prime foraging landscapes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1939-1953
Number of pages15
JournalLandscape Ecology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


  • Alces
  • GPS
  • Habitat selection
  • Heat stress
  • Lasso
  • Model selection
  • Moose
  • Movement


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