Territorial Dynamics and Stable Home Range Formation for Central Place Foragers

JR Potts, S Harris, L Giuggioli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Uncovering the mechanisms behind territory formation is a fundamental problem in behavioural ecology. The broad nature of the underlying conspecific avoidance processes are well documented across a wide range of taxa. Scent marking in particular is common to a large range of terrestrial mammals and is known to be fundamental for communication. However, despite its importance, exact quantification of the time-scales over which scent cues and messages persist remains elusive. Recent work by the present authors has begun to shed light on this problem by modelling animals as random walkers with scent-mediated interaction processes. Territories emerge as dynamic objects that continually change shape and slowly move without settling to a fixed location. As a consequence, the utilisation distribution of such an animal results in a slowly increasing home range, as shown for urban foxes (Vulpes vulpes). For certain other species, however, home ranges reach a stable state. The present work shows that stable home ranges arise when, in addition to scent-mediated conspecific avoidance, each animal moves as a central place forager. That is, the animal’s movement has a random aspect but is also biased towards a fixed location, such as a den or nest site. Dynamic territories emerge but the probability distribution of the territory border locations reaches a steady state, causing stable home ranges to emerge from the territorial dynamics. Approximate analytic expressions for the animal’s probability density function are derived. A programme is given for using these expressions to quantify both the strength of the animal’s movement bias towards the central place and the time-scale over which scent messages persist. Comparisons are made with previous theoretical work modelling central place foragers with conspecific avoidance. Some insights into the mechanisms behind allometric scaling laws of animal space use are also given.
Translated title of the contributionTerritorial Dynamics and Stable Home Range Formation for Central Place Foragers
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 11
Number of pages11
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume7(3): e34033
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012

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