Some memories never fade: inferring multi-scale memory effects on habitat selection of a migratory ungulate using step-selection functions

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Title

Some memories never fade: inferring multi-scale memory effects on habitat selection of a migratory ungulate using step-selection functions

Description

Understanding how animals use information about their environment to make movement decisions underpins our ability to explain drivers of and predict animal movement. Memory is the cognitive process that allows species to store information about experienced landscapes, however, remains an understudied topic in movement ecology. By studying how species select for familiar locations, visited recently and in the past, we can gain insight to how they store and use local information in multiple memory types. In this study, we analyzed the movements of a migratory mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) population in the Piceance Basin of Colorado, United States to investigate the influence of spatial experience over different time scales on seasonal range habitat selection. We inferred the influence of short and long-term memory from the contribution to habitat selection of previous space use within the same season and during the prior year, respectively. We fit step-selection functions to GPS collar data from 32 female deer and tested the predictive ability of covariates representing current environmental conditions and both metrics of previous space use on habitat selection, inferring the latter as the influence of memory within and between seasons (summer vs. winter). Across individuals, models incorporating covariates representing both recent and past experience and environmental covariates performed best. In the top model, locations that had been previously visited within the same season and locations from previous seasons were more strongly selected relative to environmental covariates, which we interpret as evidence for the strong influence of both short- and long-term memory in driving seasonal range habitat selection. Further, the influence of previous space uses was stronger in the summer relative to winter, which is when deer in this population demonstrated strongest philopatry to their range. Our results suggest that mule deer update their seasonal range cognitive map in real time and retain long-term information about seasonal ranges, which supports the existing theory that memory is a mechanism leading to emergent space-use patterns such as site fidelity. Lastly, these findings provide novel insight into how species store and use information over different time scales.

Bibliographic Citation

Rheault, H., C. R. Anderson Jr, M. Bonar, R. R. Marrotte, T. R. Ross, G. Wittemyer, and J. M. Northrup. 2021. Some memories never fade: inferring multi-scale memory effects on habitat selection of a migratory ungulate using step-selection functions. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 9:702818. https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2021.702818

Creator

Rheault, Helena
Anderson Jr, Charles R.
Bonar, Maegwin
Marrotte, Robby R.
Ross, Tyler R.
Wittemyer, George
Northrup, Joseph M.

Subject

Short-term memory
Movement ecology
Mule deer
Step-selection functions
Space use
Odocoileus hemionus
Cognition
Long-term memory

Extent

15 pages

Date Created

2021-07-27

Type

Article

Format

application/pdf

Language

English

Is Part Of

Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution

Collection

Citation

Rheault, Helena et al., “Some memories never fade: inferring multi-scale memory effects on habitat selection of a migratory ungulate using step-selection functions,” CPW Digital Collections, accessed June 17, 2024, https://cpw.cvlcollections.org/items/show/174.