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Remotely sensed productivity, regional home range selection, and local range use by an omnivorous primate


Willems, E P; Barton, R A; Hill, R A (2009). Remotely sensed productivity, regional home range selection, and local range use by an omnivorous primate. Behavioral Ecology, 20(5):985-992.

Abstract

Remote sensing of the environment has proved an invaluable tool to the study of animal ecology at continental to regional scales. Here, we investigated the utility of a remotely sensed index of plant productivity (the normalized difference vegetation index [NDVI]) at a much finer spatial scale to account for the range use of an omnivorous primate (the vervet monkey: Cercopithecus aethiops) foraging in a multipredator environment. Vervet monkey home range location suggested that the animals prefer areas with elevated productivity and reduced seasonality as indexed by simple NDVI metrics. Within the annual home range area, monthly NDVI values were linearly related to field measurements of leaf cover and quadratically associated with vervet monkey food availability. Temporal variation in parameters of local range use could subsequently be expressed in terms of local NDVI: Monthly averaged day journey length showed a second-order polynomial response, and the amount of time the monkeys spent on the ground increased with group size whereas linearly decreasing with monthly NDVI. The first finding signifies a behavioral response to food availability, whereas the latter is interpreted as an antipredatory response to changes in habitat visibility, associated with leaf cover. As a spatially explicit and temporally varying measure of habitat structure and productivity, the NDVI thus offers considerable scope for studies of animal behavioral ecology not only at broad spatiotemporal scales but also at a much finer grained level of analysis.

Remote sensing of the environment has proved an invaluable tool to the study of animal ecology at continental to regional scales. Here, we investigated the utility of a remotely sensed index of plant productivity (the normalized difference vegetation index [NDVI]) at a much finer spatial scale to account for the range use of an omnivorous primate (the vervet monkey: Cercopithecus aethiops) foraging in a multipredator environment. Vervet monkey home range location suggested that the animals prefer areas with elevated productivity and reduced seasonality as indexed by simple NDVI metrics. Within the annual home range area, monthly NDVI values were linearly related to field measurements of leaf cover and quadratically associated with vervet monkey food availability. Temporal variation in parameters of local range use could subsequently be expressed in terms of local NDVI: Monthly averaged day journey length showed a second-order polynomial response, and the amount of time the monkeys spent on the ground increased with group size whereas linearly decreasing with monthly NDVI. The first finding signifies a behavioral response to food availability, whereas the latter is interpreted as an antipredatory response to changes in habitat visibility, associated with leaf cover. As a spatially explicit and temporally varying measure of habitat structure and productivity, the NDVI thus offers considerable scope for studies of animal behavioral ecology not only at broad spatiotemporal scales but also at a much finer grained level of analysis.

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22 citations in Web of Science®
21 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Language:English
Date:2009
Deposited On:08 Mar 2010 20:53
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:00
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:1045-2249
Publisher DOI:10.1093/beheco/arp087
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-32106

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