Publications by authors named "Manuela Panzacchi"

5 Publications

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How many routes lead to migration? Comparison of methods to assess and characterize migratory movements.

J Anim Ecol 2016 Jan 1;85(1):54-68. Epub 2015 Dec 1.

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

Decreasing rate of migration in several species as a consequence of climate change and anthropic pressure, together with increasing evidence of space-use strategies intermediate between residency and complete migration, are very strong motivations to evaluate migration occurrence and features in animal populations. The main goal of this paper was to perform a relative comparison between methods for identifying and characterizing migration at the individual and population level on the basis of animal location data. We classified 104 yearly individual trajectories from five populations of three deer species as migratory or non-migratory, by means of three methods: seasonal home range overlap, spatio-temporal separation of seasonal clusters and the Net Squared Displacement (NSD) method. For migratory cases, we also measured timing and distance of migration and residence time on the summer range. Finally, we compared the classification in migration cases across methods and populations. All methods consistently identified migration at the population level, that is, they coherently distinguished between complete or almost complete migratory populations and partially migratory populations. However, in the latter case, methods coherently classified only about 50% of the single cases, that is they classified differently at the individual-animal level. We therefore infer that the comparison of methods may help point to 'less-stereotyped' cases in the residency-to-migration continuum. For cases consistently classified by all methods, no significant differences were found in migration distance, or residence time on summer ranges. Timing of migration estimated by NSD was earlier than by the other two methods, both for spring and autumn migrations. We suggest three steps to identify improper inferences from migration data and to enhance understanding of intermediate space-use strategies. We recommend (i) classifying migration behaviours using more than one method, (ii) performing sensitivity analysis on method parameters to identify the extent of the differences and (iii) investigating inconsistently classified cases as these may often be ecologically interesting (i.e. less-stereotyped migratory behaviours).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.12449DOI Listing
January 2016

Predicting the continuum between corridors and barriers to animal movements using Step Selection Functions and Randomized Shortest Paths.

J Anim Ecol 2016 Jan 6;85(1):32-42. Epub 2015 Aug 6.

Department of Animal and Human Biology, Sapienza University, Viale dell'Università 32, Rome, 00185, Italy.

The loss, fragmentation and degradation of habitat everywhere on Earth prompts increasing attention to identifying landscape features that support animal movement (corridors) or impedes it (barriers). Most algorithms used to predict corridors assume that animals move through preferred habitat either optimally (e.g. least cost path) or as random walkers (e.g. current models), but neither extreme is realistic. We propose that corridors and barriers are two sides of the same coin and that animals experience landscapes as spatiotemporally dynamic corridor-barrier continua connecting (separating) functional areas where individuals fulfil specific ecological processes. Based on this conceptual framework, we propose a novel methodological approach that uses high-resolution individual-based movement data to predict corridor-barrier continua with increased realism. Our approach consists of two innovations. First, we use step selection functions (SSF) to predict friction maps quantifying corridor-barrier continua for tactical steps between consecutive locations. Secondly, we introduce to movement ecology the randomized shortest path algorithm (RSP) which operates on friction maps to predict the corridor-barrier continuum for strategic movements between functional areas. By modulating the parameter Ѳ, which controls the trade-off between exploration and optimal exploitation of the environment, RSP bridges the gap between algorithms assuming optimal movements (when Ѳ approaches infinity, RSP is equivalent to LCP) or random walk (when Ѳ → 0, RSP → current models). Using this approach, we identify migration corridors for GPS-monitored wild reindeer (Rangifer t. tarandus) in Norway. We demonstrate that reindeer movement is best predicted by an intermediate value of Ѳ, indicative of a movement trade-off between optimization and exploration. Model calibration allows identification of a corridor-barrier continuum that closely fits empirical data and demonstrates that RSP outperforms models that assume either optimality or random walk. The proposed approach models the multiscale cognitive maps by which animals likely navigate real landscapes and generalizes the most common algorithms for identifying corridors. Because suboptimal, but non-random, movement strategies are likely widespread, our approach has the potential to predict more realistic corridor-barrier continua for a wide range of species.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.12386DOI Listing
January 2016

'You shall not pass!': quantifying barrier permeability and proximity avoidance by animals.

J Anim Ecol 2016 Jan 25;85(1):43-53. Epub 2014 Aug 25.

Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QQ, UK.

Impediments to animal movement are ubiquitous and vary widely in both scale and permeability. It is essential to understand how impediments alter ecological dynamics via their influence on animal behavioural strategies governing space use and, for anthropogenic features such as roads and fences, how to mitigate these effects to effectively manage species and landscapes. Here, we focused primarily on barriers to movement, which we define as features that cannot be circumnavigated but may be crossed. Responses to barriers will be influenced by the movement capabilities of the animal, its proximity to the barriers, and habitat preference. We developed a mechanistic modelling framework for simultaneously quantifying the permeability and proximity effects of barriers on habitat preference and movement. We used simulations based on our model to demonstrate how parameters on movement, habitat preference and barrier permeability can be estimated statistically. We then applied the model to a case study of road effects on wild mountain reindeer summer movements. This framework provided unbiased and precise parameter estimates across a range of strengths of preferences and barrier permeabilities. The quality of permeability estimates, however, was correlated with the number of times the barrier is crossed and the number of locations in proximity to barriers. In the case study we found that reindeer avoided areas near roads and that roads are semi-permeable barriers to movement. There was strong avoidance of roads extending up to c. 1 km for four of five animals, and having to cross roads reduced the probability of movement by 68·6% (range 3·5-99·5%). Human infrastructure has embedded within it the idea of networks: nodes connected by linear features such as roads, rail tracks, pipelines, fences and cables, many of which divide the landscape and limit animal movement. The unintended but potentially profound consequences of infrastructure on animals remain poorly understood. The rigorous framework for simultaneously quantifying movement, habitat preference and barrier permeability developed here begins to address this knowledge gap.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.12275DOI Listing
January 2016

Understanding scales of movement: animals ride waves and ripples of environmental change.

J Anim Ecol 2013 Jul 15;82(4):770-80. Epub 2013 Feb 15.

Centre for Conservation Biology, Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), NO-7491, Trondheim, Norway; Terrestrial Department, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), NO-7485, Trondheim, Norway.

Animal movements are the primary behavioural adaptation to spatiotemporal heterogeneity in resource availability. Depending on their spatiotemporal scale, movements have been categorized into distinct functional groups (e.g. foraging movements, dispersal, migration), and have been studied using different methodologies. We suggest striving towards the development of a coherent framework based on the ultimate function of all movement types, which is to increase individual fitness through an optimal exploitation of resources varying in space and time. We developed a novel approach to simultaneously study movements at different spatiotemporal scales based on the following proposed theory: the length and frequency of animal movements are determined by the interaction between temporal autocorrelation in resource availability and spatial autocorrelation in changes in resource availability. We hypothesized that for each time interval the spatiotemporal scales of moose Alces alces movements correspond to the spatiotemporal scales of variation in the gains derived from resource exploitation when taking into account the costs of movements (represented by their proxies, forage availability NDVI and snow depth respectively). The scales of change in NDVI and snow were quantified using wave theory, and were related to the scale of moose movement using linear mixed models. In support of the proposed theory we found that frequent, smaller scale movements were triggered by fast, small-scale ripples of changes, whereas infrequent, larger scale movements matched slow, large-scale waves of change in resource availability. Similarly, moose inhabiting ranges characterized by larger scale waves of change in the onset of spring migrated longer distances. We showed that the scales of movements are driven by the scales of changes in the net profitability of trophic resources. Our approach can be extended to include drivers of movements other than trophic resources (e.g. population density, density of related individuals, predation risk) and may facilitate the assessment of the impact of environmental changes on community dynamics and conservation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.12045DOI Listing
July 2013

Predicting the potential demographic impact of predators on their prey: a comparative analysis of two carnivore-ungulate systems in Scandinavia.

J Anim Ecol 2012 Mar 11;81(2):443-54. Epub 2011 Nov 11.

Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, PO Box 5685, Sluppen, NO-7485 Trondheim, Norway.

1. Understanding the role of predation in shaping the dynamics of animal communities is a fundamental issue in ecological research. Nevertheless, the complex nature of predator-prey interactions often prevents researchers from modelling them explicitly. 2. By using periodic Leslie-Usher matrices and a simulation approach together with parameters obtained from long-term field projects, we reconstructed the underlying mechanisms of predator-prey demographic interactions and compared the dynamics of the roe deer-red fox-Eurasian lynx-human harvest system with those of the moose-brown bear-gray wolf-human harvest system in the boreal forest ecosystem of the southern Scandinavian Peninsula. 3. The functional relationship of both roe deer and moose λ to changes in predation rates from the four predators was remarkably different. Lynx had the strongest impact among the four predators, whereas predation rates by wolves, red foxes, or brown bears generated minor variations in prey population λ. Elasticity values of lynx, wolf, fox and bear predation rates were -0·157, -0·056, -0·031 and -0·006, respectively, but varied with both predator and prey densities. 4. Differences in predation impact were only partially related to differences in kill or predation rates, but were rather a result of different distribution of predation events among prey age classes. Therefore, the age composition of killed individuals emerged as the main underlying factor determining the overall per capita impact of predation. 5. Our results confirm the complex nature of predator-prey interactions in large terrestrial mammals, by showing that different carnivores preying on the same prey species can exert a dramatically different demographic impact, even in the same ecological context, as a direct consequence of their predation patterns. Similar applications of this analytical framework in other geographical and ecological contexts are needed, but a more general evaluation of the subject is also required, aimed to assess, on a broader systematic and ecological range, what specific traits of a carnivore are most related to its potential impact on prey species.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2656.2011.01928.xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3440569PMC
March 2012