Publications by authors named "Federico Ossi"

5 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Experimental evidence of memory-based foraging decisions in a large wild mammal.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2021 Apr;118(15)

Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge MA 02138.

Many animals restrict their movements to a characteristic home range. This constrained pattern of space use is thought to result from the foraging benefits of memorizing the locations and quality of heterogeneously distributed resources. However, due to the confounding effects of sensory perception, the role of memory in home-range movement behavior lacks definitive evidence in the wild. Here, we analyze the foraging decisions of a large mammal during a field resource manipulation experiment designed to disentangle the effects of memory and perception. We parametrize a mechanistic model of spatial transitions using experimental data to quantify the cognitive processes underlying animal foraging behavior and to predict how individuals respond to resource heterogeneity in space and time. We demonstrate that roe deer () rely on memory, not perception, to track the spatiotemporal dynamics of resources within their home range. Roe deer foraging decisions were primarily based on recent experience (half-lives of 0.9 and 5.6 d for attribute and spatial memory, respectively), enabling them to adapt to sudden changes in resource availability. The proposed memory-based model was able to both quantify the cognitive processes underlying roe deer behavior and accurately predict how they shifted resource use during the experiment. Our study highlights the fact that animal foraging decisions are based on incomplete information on the locations of available resources, a factor that is critical to developing accurate predictions of animal spatial behavior but is typically not accounted for in analyses of animal movement in the wild.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2014856118DOI Listing
April 2021

Climate change and anthropogenic food manipulation interact in shifting the distribution of a large herbivore at its altitudinal range limit.

Sci Rep 2021 Apr 7;11(1):7600. Epub 2021 Apr 7.

Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA.

Ungulates in alpine ecosystems are constrained by winter harshness through resource limitation and direct mortality from weather extremes. However, little empirical evidence has definitively established how current climate change and other anthropogenic modifications of resource availability affect ungulate winter distribution, especially at their range limits. Here, we used a combination of historical (1997-2002) and contemporary (2012-2015) Eurasian roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) relocation datasets that span changes in snowpack characteristics and two levels of supplemental feeding to compare and forecast probability of space use at the species' altitudinal range limit. Scarcer snow cover in the contemporary period interacted with the augmented feeding site distribution to increase the elevation of winter range limits, and we predict this trend will continue under climate change. Moreover, roe deer have shifted from historically using feeding sites primarily under deep snow conditions to contemporarily using them under a wider range of snow conditions as their availability has increased. Combined with scarcer snow cover during December, January, and April, this trend has reduced inter-annual variability in space use patterns in these months. These spatial responses to climate- and artificial resource-provisioning shifts evidence the importance of these changing factors in shaping large herbivore spatial distribution and, consequently, ecosystem dynamics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-86720-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8027592PMC
April 2021

Ecological and Behavioral Drivers of Supplemental Feeding Use by Roe Deer in a Peri-Urban Context.

Animals (Basel) 2020 Nov 10;10(11). Epub 2020 Nov 10.

Department of Biodiversity and Molecular Ecology, Research and Innovation Centre, Fondazione Edmund Mach, Via E. Mach 1, 38010 San Michele all'Adige, Italy.

Winter supplemental feeding of ungulates potentially alters their use of resources and ecological interactions, yet relatively little is known about the patterns of feeding sites use by target populations. We used camera traps to continuously monitor winter and spring feeding site use in a roe deer population living in a peri-urban area in Northern Italy. We combined circular statistics with generalized additive and linear mixed models to analyze the diel and seasonal pattern of roe deer visits to feeding sites, and the behavioral drivers influencing visit duration. Roe deer visits peaked at dawn and dusk, and decreased from winter to spring when vegetation regrows and temperature increases. Roe deer mostly visited feeding sites solitarily; when this was not the case, they stayed longer at the site, especially when conspecifics were eating, but maintained a bimodal diel pattern of visits. These results support an opportunistic use of feeding sites, following seasonal cycles and the roe deer circadian clock. Yet, the attractiveness of these artificial resources has the potential to alter intra-specific relationships, as competition for their use induces gatherings and may extend the contact time between individuals, with potential behavioral and epidemiological consequences.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani10112088DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7698021PMC
November 2020

Preference and familiarity mediate spatial responses of a large herbivore to experimental manipulation of resource availability.

Sci Rep 2020 07 20;10(1):11946. Epub 2020 Jul 20.

Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.

The link between spatio-temporal resource patterns and animal movement behaviour is a key ecological process, however, limited experimental support for this connection has been produced at the home range scale. In this study, we analysed the spatial responses of a resident large herbivore (roe deer Capreolus capreolus) using an in situ manipulation of a concentrated food resource. Specifically, we experimentally altered feeding site accessibility to roe deer and recorded (for 25 animal-years) individual responses by GPS tracking. We found that, following the loss of their preferred resource, roe deer actively tracked resource dynamics leading to more exploratory movements, and larger, spatially-shifted home ranges. Then, we showed, for the first time experimentally, the importance of site fidelity in the maintenance of large mammal home ranges by demonstrating the return of individuals to their familiar, preferred resource despite the presence of alternate, equally-valuable food resources. This behaviour was modulated at the individual level, where roe deer characterised by a high preference for feeding sites exhibited more pronounced behavioural adjustments during the manipulation. Together, our results establish the connections between herbivore movements, space-use, individual preference, and the spatio-temporal pattern of resources in home ranging behaviour.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-68046-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7371708PMC
July 2020

Seasonality, weather and climate affect home range size in roe deer across a wide latitudinal gradient within Europe.

J Anim Ecol 2013 Nov 15;82(6):1326-39. Epub 2013 Jul 15.

INRA, UR35 Comportement et Ecologie de la Faune Sauvage, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, B.P. 52627, 31326, Castanet-Tolosan, France.

1. Because many large mammal species have wide geographical ranges, spatially distant populations may be confronted with different sets of environmental conditions. Investigating how home range (HR) size varies across environmental gradients should yield a better understanding of the factors affecting large mammal ecology. 2. We evaluated how HR size of a large herbivore, the roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), varies in relation to seasonality, latitude (climate), weather, plant productivity and landscape features across its geographical range in Western Europe. As roe deer are income breeders, expected to adjust HR size continuously to temporal variation in food resources and energetic requirements, our baseline prediction was for HR size to decrease with proxies of resource availability. 3. We used GPS locations of roe deer collected from seven study sites (EURODEER collaborative project) to estimate fixed-kernel HR size at weekly and monthly temporal scales. We performed an unusually comprehensive analysis of variation in HR size among and within populations over time across the geographical range of a single species using generalized additive mixed models and linear mixed models, respectively. 4. Among populations, HR size decreased with increasing values for proxies of forage abundance, but increased with increases in seasonality, stochastic variation of temperature, latitude and snow cover. Within populations, roe deer HR size varied over time in relation to seasonality and proxies of forage abundance in a consistent way across the seven populations. Thus, our findings were broadly consistent across the distributional range of this species, demonstrating a strong and ubiquitous link between the amplitude and timing of environmental seasonality and HR size at the continental scale. 5. Overall, the variability in average HR size of roe deer across Europe reflects the interaction among local weather, climate and seasonality, providing valuable insight into the limiting factors affecting this large herbivore under contrasting conditions. The complexity of the relationships suggests that predicting ranging behaviour of large herbivores in relation to current and future climate change will require detailed knowledge not only about predicted increases in temperature, but also how this interacts with factors such as day length and climate predictability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.12105DOI Listing
November 2013