Space-Use Patterns of the Asiatic Wild Ass (Equus hemionus): Complementary Insights from Displacement, Recursion Movement and Habitat Selection Analyses. Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The way in which animals move and use the landscape is influenced by the spatial distribution of resources, and is of importance when considering species conservation. We aimed at exploring how landscape-related factors affect a large herbivore's space-use patterns by using a combined approach, integrating movement (displacement and recursions) and habitat selection analyses. We studied the endangered Asiatic wild ass (Equus hemionus) in the Negev Desert, Israel, using GPS monitoring and direct observation. We found that the main landscape-related factors affecting the species' space-use patterns, on a daily and seasonal basis, were vegetation cover, water sources and topography. Two main habitat types were selected: high-elevation sites during the day (specific microclimate: windy on warm summer days) and streambed surroundings during the night (coupled with high vegetation when the animals were active in summer). Distribution of recursion times (duration between visits) revealed a 24-hour periodicity, a pattern that could be widespread among large herbivores. Characterizing frequently revisited sites suggested that recursion movements were mainly driven by a few landscape features (water sources, vegetation patches, high-elevation points), but also by social factors, such as territoriality, which should be further explored. This study provided complementary insights into the space-use patterns of E. hemionus. Understanding of the species' space-use patterns, at both large and fine spatial scale, is required for developing appropriate conservation protocols. Our approach could be further applied for studying the space-use patterns of other species in heterogeneous landscapes.

publication date

  • January 1, 2015