Animal Movements in Heterogeneous Landscapes: Wapiti, Wolves and Prions

Free nibbles and discussion between early career researchers and the speaker at Oxford University Club, 11 Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3SZ from 2.30pm

Heterogeneous landscapes provide an environment in which animals non-randomly interact with resources and other species. I provide three examples of how landscapes modified by humans in the Canadian Rocky Mountains and Prairies of Alberta influence animals’ movements and this leads to differential mortality from predators, humans, and disease. The first example compares how growing road networks associated with forestry practices vs. oil and gas development can alter mortality rates of wapiti, or the North American elk (Cervus canadensis), and illustrates how the modeled effects can be used to evaluate the impact of land-use changes on wapiti populations. The second example describes how seismic lines influence wolf (Canis lupus) distribution and movement rates and how this alters the functional response of between wolves and its prey. Finally, I illustrate how models of animal movements can be incorporated into an understanding of disease risk, using chronic wasting disease spreading in mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) in eastern Alberta as an example. In presenting these examples, I contrast different types of animal movement models and their application to real-world problems in wildlife conservation.