Publications by authors named "Nathan Ranc"

7 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
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8053919PMC
April 2021

Spatial heterogeneity facilitates carnivore coexistence.

Ecology 2021 May;102(5):e03319

Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA.

Competitively dominant carnivore species can limit the population sizes and alter the behavior of inferior competitors. Established mechanisms that enable carnivore coexistence include spatial and temporal avoidance of dominant predator species by subordinates, and dietary niche separation. However, spatial heterogeneity across landscapes could provide inferior competitors with refuges in the form of areas with lower competitor density and/or locations that provide concealment from competitors. Here, we combine temporally overlapping telemetry data from dominant lions (Panthera leo) and subordinate African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) with high-resolution remote sensing in an integrated step selection analysis to investigate how fine-scaled landscape heterogeneity might facilitate carnivore coexistence in South Africa's Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, where both predators occur at exceptionally high densities. We ask whether the primary lion-avoidance strategy of wild dogs is spatial avoidance of lions or areas frequented by lions, or if wild dogs selectively use landscape features to avoid detection by lions. Within this framework, we also test whether wild dogs rely on proactive or reactive responses to lion risk. In contrast to previous studies finding strong spatial avoidance of lions by wild dogs, we found that the primary wild dog lion-avoidance strategy was to select landscape features that aid in avoidance of lion detection. This habitat selection was routinely used by wild dogs, and especially when in areas and during times of high lion-encounter risk, suggesting a proactive response to lion risk. Our findings suggest that spatial landscape heterogeneity could represent an alternative mechanism for carnivore coexistence, especially as ever-shrinking carnivore ranges force inferior competitors into increased contact with dominant species.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ecy.3319DOI Listing
May 2021

Knowing your neighbours: How memory-mediated conspecific avoidance influences home ranges.

J Anim Ecol 2020 12;89(12):2746-2749

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

In Focus: Ellison, N., Hatchwell, B. J., Biddiscombe, S. J., Napper, C. J., & Potts, J. R. (2020). Mechanistic home range analysis reveals drivers of space use patterns for a non-territorial passerine. Journal of Animal Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.13292. Most animals for which space use has been studied restrict their movements into a constrained spatial area: their home range. The ubiquity of this space-use pattern suggests that home ranges are adaptive in a wide range of ecological contexts, and that they likely arise from general biological mechanisms. In this issue, Ellison et al. use a mechanistic home range analysis (MHRA) to uncover the drivers underlying home range patterns in a passerine that is non-territorial. They show that a model integrating both resource preferences (specifically, an attraction to woodland centre), and memory-mediated conspecific avoidance can capture the space-use patterns observed in a wild population of long-tailed tits Aegithalos caudatus. In doing so, their analysis extends the applicability of MHRA to capturing and predicting home range patterns beyond the previously studied cases where spatially exclusive home ranges emerge from scent mark-mediated avoidance responses to neighbouring groups.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.13374DOI Listing
December 2020

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

Stay home, stay safe-Site familiarity reduces predation risk in a large herbivore in two contrasting study sites.

J Anim Ecol 2020 06 4;89(6):1329-1339. Epub 2020 Apr 4.

Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Restricting movements to familiar areas should increase individual fitness as it provides animals with information about the spatial distribution of resources and predation risk. While the benefits of familiarity for locating resources have been reported previously, the potential value of familiarity for predation avoidance has been accorded less attention. It has been suggested that familiarity should be beneficial for anti-predator behaviour when direct cues of predation risk are unclear and do not allow prey to identify well-defined spatial refuges. However, to our knowledge, this hypothesis has yet to be tested. Here, we assessed how site familiarity, measured as the intensity of use of a given location, is associated with the probability of roe deer Capreolus capreolus being killed by two predators with contrasting hunting tactics, the Eurasian lynx Lynx lynx and human hunters. While risk of human hunting was confined to open habitats, risk of lynx predation was more diffuse, with no clear refuge areas. We estimated cause-specific mortality rates in a competing risk framework for 212 GPS-collared roe deer in two ecologically distinct areas of Central Europe to test the hypothesis that the daily risk of being killed by lynx or hunters should be lower in areas of high familiarity. We found strong evidence that site familiarity reduces the risk of being predated by lynx, whereas the evidence that the risk of being hunted is linked to site familiarity was weak. We suggest that local knowledge about small-scale differences in predation risk and information about efficient escape routes affect an individual's ability to avoid or escape an attack by an ambush predator. Our study emphasizes the role of site familiarity in determining the susceptibility of prey to predation. Further research will be required to understand better how a cognitive map of individual spatial information is beneficial for avoiding predation in the arms race that drives the predator-prey shell game.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.13202DOI Listing
June 2020

Ungulate management in European national parks: Why a more integrated European policy is needed.

J Environ Manage 2020 Apr 31;260:110068. Epub 2020 Jan 31.

Department of Visitor Management and National Park Monitoring, Bavarian Forest National Park, Freyunger Straβe 2, 94481, Grafenau, Germany; Chair of Wildlife Ecology and Management, Albert Ludwigs University Freiburg, Tennenbacher Straβe 4, 79106, Freiburg, Germany.

1. Primary objectives of national parks usually include both, the protection of natural processes and species conservation. When these objectives conflict, as occurs because of the cascading effects of large mammals (i.e., ungulates and large carnivores) on lower trophic levels, park managers have to decide upon the appropriate management while considering various local circumstances. 2. To analyse if ungulate management strategies are in accordance with the objectives defined for protected areas, we assessed the current status of ungulate management across European national parks using the naturalness concept and identified the variables that influence the management. 3. We collected data on ungulate management from 209 European national parks in 29 countries by means of a large-scale questionnaire survey. Ungulate management in the parks was compared by creating two naturalness scores. The first score reflects ungulate and large carnivore species compositions, and the second evaluates human intervention on ungulate populations. We then tested whether the two naturalness score categories are influenced by the management objectives, park size, years since establishment, percentage of government-owned land, and human impact on the environment (human influence index) using two generalized additive mixed models. 4. In 67.9% of the national parks, wildlife is regulated by culling (40.2%) or hunting (10.5%) or both (17.2%). Artificial feeding occurred in 81.3% of the national parks and only 28.5% of the national parks had a non-intervention zone covering at least 75% of the area. Furthermore, ungulate management differed greatly among the different countries, likely because of differences in hunting traditions and cultural and political backgrounds. Ungulate management was also influenced by park size, human impact on the landscape, and national park objectives, but after removing these variables from the full model the reduced models only showed a small change in the deviance explained. In areas with higher anthropogenic pressure, wildlife diversity tended to be lower and a higher number of domesticated species tended to be present. Human intervention (culling and artificial feeding) was lower in smaller national parks and when park objectives followed those set by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 5. Our study shows that many European national parks do not fulfil the aims of protected area management as set by IUCN guidelines. In contrast to the USA and Canada, Europe currently has no common ungulate management policy within national parks. This lack of a common policy together with differences in species composition, hunting traditions, and cultural or political context has led to differences in ungulate management among European countries. To fulfil the aims and objectives of national parks and to develop ungulate management strategies further, we highlight the importance of creating a more integrated European ungulate management policy to meet the aims of national parks.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2020.110068DOI Listing
April 2020