Publications by authors named "Wibke Peters"

7 Publications

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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

Wave-like Patterns of Plant Phenology Determine Ungulate Movement Tactics.

Curr Biol 2020 09 2;30(17):3444-3449.e4. Epub 2020 Jul 2.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Pinedale, WY 82941, USA.

Animals exhibit a diversity of movement tactics [1]. Tracking resources that change across space and time is predicted to be a fundamental driver of animal movement [2]. For example, some migratory ungulates (i.e., hooved mammals) closely track the progression of highly nutritious plant green-up, a phenomenon called "green-wave surfing" [3-5]. Yet general principles describing how the dynamic nature of resources determine movement tactics are lacking [6]. We tested an emerging theory that predicts surfing and the existence of migratory behavior will be favored in environments where green-up is fleeting and moves sequentially across large landscapes (i.e., wave-like green-up) [7]. Landscapes exhibiting wave-like patterns of green-up facilitated surfing and explained the existence of migratory behavior across 61 populations of four ungulate species on two continents (n = 1,696 individuals). At the species level, foraging benefits were equivalent between tactics, suggesting that each movement tactic is fine-tuned to local patterns of plant phenology. For decades, ecologists have sought to understand how animals move to select habitat, commonly defining habitat as a set of static patches [8, 9]. Our findings indicate that animal movement tactics emerge as a function of the flux of resources across space and time, underscoring the need to redefine habitat to include its dynamic attributes. As global habitats continue to be modified by anthropogenic disturbance and climate change [10], our synthesis provides a generalizable framework to understand how animal movement will be influenced by altered patterns of resource phenology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.06.032DOI Listing
September 2020

Truly sedentary? The multi-range tactic as a response to resource heterogeneity and unpredictability in a large herbivore.

Oecologia 2018 05 2;187(1):47-60. Epub 2018 Apr 2.

CEFS, Université de Toulouse, INRA, Castanet Tolosan, France.

Much research on large herbivore movement has focused on the annual scale to distinguish between resident and migratory tactics, commonly assuming that individuals are sedentary at the within-season scale. However, apparently sedentary animals may occupy a number of sub-seasonal functional home ranges (sfHR), particularly when the environment is spatially heterogeneous and/or temporally unpredictable. The roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) experiences sharply contrasting environmental conditions due to its widespread distribution, but appears markedly sedentary over much of its range. Using GPS monitoring from 15 populations across Europe, we evaluated the propensity of this large herbivore to be truly sedentary at the seasonal scale in relation to variation in environmental conditions. We studied movement using net square displacement to identify the possible use of sfHR. We expected that roe deer should be less sedentary within seasons in heterogeneous and unpredictable environments, while migratory individuals should be seasonally more sedentary than residents. Our analyses revealed that, across the 15 populations, all individuals adopted a multi-range tactic, occupying between two and nine sfHR during a given season. In addition, we showed that (i) the number of sfHR was only marginally influenced by variation in resource distribution, but decreased with increasing sfHR size; and (ii) the distance between sfHR increased with increasing heterogeneity and predictability in resource distribution, as well as with increasing sfHR size. We suggest that the multi-range tactic is likely widespread among large herbivores, allowing animals to track spatio-temporal variation in resource distribution and, thereby, to cope with changes in their local environment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00442-018-4131-5DOI Listing
May 2018

A framework for modelling range shifts and migrations: asking when, whither, whether and will it return.

J Anim Ecol 2017 Jul 25;86(4):943-959. Epub 2017 May 25.

Department of Biology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, 20742, USA.

Many animals undertake movements that are longer scaled and more directed than their typical home ranging behaviour. These movements include seasonal migrations (e.g. between breeding and feeding grounds), natal dispersal, nomadic range shifts and responses to local environmental disruptions. While various heuristic tools exist for identifying range shifts and migrations, none explicitly model the movement of the animals within a statistical framework that facilitates quantitative comparisons. We present the mechanistic range shift analysis (MRSA), a method to estimate a suite of range shift parameters: times of initiation, duration of transitions, centroids and areas of respective ranges. The method can take the autocorrelation and irregular sampling that is characteristic of much movement data into account. The mechanistic parameters suggest an intuitive measure, the range shift index, for the extent of a range shift. The likelihood based estimation further allows for statistical tests of several relevant hypotheses, including a range shift test, a stopover test and a site fidelity test. The analysis tools are provided in an R package (marcher). We applied the MRSA to a population of GPS tracked roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) in the Italian Alps between 2005 and 2008. With respect to seasonal migration, this population is extremely variable and difficult to classify. Using the MRSA, we were able to quantify the behaviours across the population and among individuals across years, identifying extents, durations and locations of seasonal range shifts, including cases that would have been ambiguous to detect using existing tools. The strongest patterns were differences across years: many animals simply did not perform a seasonal migration to wintering grounds during the mild winter of 2006-2007, even though some of these same animals did move extensively in other, harsher winters. For seasonal migrants, however, site fidelity across years was extremely high, even after skipping an entire seasonal migration. These results suggest that for roe deer behavioural plasticity and tactical responses to immediate environmental cues are reflected in the decision of whether rather than where to migrate. The MRSA also revealed a trade-off between the probability of migrating and the size of a home range.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.12674DOI Listing
July 2017

Linking landscape-scale differences in forage to ungulate nutritional ecology.

Ecol Appl 2016 Oct 20;26(7):2156-2174. Epub 2016 Sep 20.

Wildlife Biology Program, College of Forestry and Conservation, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, 59812, USA.

Understanding how habitat and nutritional condition affect ungulate populations is necessary for informing management, particularly in areas experiencing carnivore recovery and declining ungulate population trends. Variations in forage species availability, plant phenological stage, and the abundance of forage make it challenging to understand landscape-level effects of nutrition on ungulates. We developed an integrated spatial modeling approach to estimate landscape-level elk (Cervus elaphus) nutritional resources in two adjacent study areas that differed in coarse measures of habitat quality and related the consequences of differences in nutritional resources to elk body condition and pregnancy rates. We found no support for differences in dry matter digestibility between plant samples or in phenological stage based on ground sampling plots in the two study areas. Our index of nutritional resources, measured as digestible forage biomass, varied among land cover types and between study areas. We found that altered plant composition following fires was the biggest driver of differences in nutritional resources, suggesting that maintaining a mosaic of fire history and distribution will likely benefit ungulate populations. Study area, lactation status, and year affected fall body fat of adult female elk. Elk in the study area exposed to lower summer range nutritional resources had lower nutritional condition entering winter. These differences in nutritional condition resulted in differences in pregnancy rate, with average pregnancy rates of 89% for elk exposed to higher nutritional resources and 72% for elk exposed to lower nutritional resources. Summer range nutritional resources have the potential to limit elk pregnancy rate and calf production, and these nutritional limitations may predispose elk to be more sensitive to the effects of harvest or predation. Wildlife managers should identify ungulate populations that are nutritionally limited and recognize that these populations may be more impacted by recovering carnivores or harvest than populations inhabiting more productive summer habitats.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/eap.1370DOI Listing
October 2016