Can habitat selection predict abundance?


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Abstract

Summary1. Habitats have substantial influence on the distribution and abundance of animals. Animals' selective movement yields their habitat use. Animals generally are more abundant in habitats that are selected most strongly.2. Models of habitat selection can be used to distribute animals on the landscape or their distribution can be modelled based on data of habitat use, occupancy, intensity of use or counts of animals. When the population is at carrying capacity or in an ideal-free distribution, habitat selection and related metrics of habitat use can be used to estimate abundance.3. If the population is not at equilibrium, models have the flexibility to incorporate density into models of habitat selection; but abundance might be influenced by factors influencing fitness that are not directly related to habitat thereby compromising the use of habitat-based models for predicting population size.4. Scale and domain of the sampling frame, both in time and space, are crucial considerations limiting application of these models. Ultimately, identifying reliable models for predicting abundance from habitat data requires an understanding of the mechanisms underlying population regulation and limitation.Habitat is fundamental to the distribution and abundance of animals. The authors show how habitat selection models can be linked to population size thereby creating a direct link between habitats and population ecology.

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