Utilisation de l'espace par les grands herbivores dans un environnement hétérogène et dynamique : méthodologie et applications

Authors: Prima, Marie-Caroline
Advisor: Fortin, DanielDuchesne, Thierry
Abstract: In my thesis, I develop mechanistic models of space use based on animal movement, to understand and to predict population distribution in heterogeneous and dynamic landscapes. Used and developed methodologies couple mathematical modelling of the spatio-temporal dynamics of animal movement together with statistical analysis of simulated and empirical movement datasets. In my first chapter, I proceed in a series of simulations to clarify how many clusters are needed when using generalized estimating equations to correctly account for the correlation in movement data and to obtain robust inference on habitat selection. My simulations reveal that 30 independent individuals, each assigned to a cluster, are sufficient to avoid biased evaluation of the uncertainty on habitat selection along movement in heterogeneous environments. When less than 30 individuals are available, destructive sampling can be used but solely when temporal correlation is present and inter-individual heterogeneity is low in the data. In my second chapter, I develop a statistical movement model that allows to identify successive behavioral phases (e.g., foraging phase, inter-patch movement) together with behavior-specific habitat selection parameters, over the whole population and using temporally irregular data. Analysis of simulated and empirical movement data from three large herbivores including plains bison (Bison bison bison), mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and plains zebra (Equus quagga) show the robustness and the high predictive capacity of the model. This statistical tool is also flexible since I assess multiple ecological processes from those datasets such as foraging behavior, migratory behavior or prey-predator interactions. In addition, I show how accounting for behavioral phases in habitat selection analysis is crucial to correctly characterize habitat selection along animal movement. In my third chapter, I develop a mathematical framework to couple movement of individuals among a network of resource patches with residency time in patches to mechanistically predict space use in heterogeneous landscapes. In addition, I illustrate a methodology to identify and predict the most representative theoretical network for the target species. I show from model application on data of plains bison that the theoretical network topology is crucial to correctly infer population space use and implement realistic management and conservation planning. In my chapter 4, I empirically assess the robustness of a network of resource patches following landscape fragmentation from anthropogenic source. The analysis shows that woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) reconnect some patches, thus causing robustness in their spatial networks. However, predictions on space use from the mechanistic model developed in chapter 3 reveal that, despite the rewiring, patch use change following the fragmentation. Moreover, this change is stronger when the most connected patches (i.e., the hubs) are impacted. My thesis provides a methodological contribution to better account for correlation in movement data and integrate behavioral phases in habitat selection analysis in heterogeneous landscapes. Besides, my work links network theory and space use to mechanistically predict population distribution in heterogeneous and dynamic environments. My research also assesses the context in which network theory can be applied to spatial ecology. Finally, my thesis improves our mechanistic understanding of animal movement in four species of large herbivores.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2019
Open Access Date: 7 May 2019
Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11794/34748
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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