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Title: Assessing behaviour states of a forest carnivore in a road-dominated landscape using hidden Markov models
Authors: Ferreira, Eduardo
Valerio, Frafrancesco
Medinas, Denis
Fernandes, Nelson
Craveiro, João
Costa, Pedro
Silva, João Paulo
Carrapato, Carlos
Mira, António
Santos, Sara
Keywords: Behavioural barrier
Gentetta genetta
Habitat fragmentation
Movement behaviour
Movement ecology
Road proximity
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Nature Conservation
Citation: Ferreira, E.; Valerio, F.; Medinas, D.; Fernandes, N.; Craveiro, J.; Costa, P.; Silva, J.P.; Carrapato, C.; Mira, A. Santos, S. 2022. Assessing behaviour states of a forest carnivore in a road-dominated landscape using hidden Markov models. Nature Conservation,47: 155-175.
Abstract: Anthropogenic infrastructures and land-use changes are major threats to animal movements across heterogeneous landscapes. Yet, the behavioural consequences of such constraints remain poorly understood. We investigated the relationship between the behaviour of the Common genet (Genetta genetta) and road proximity, within a dominant mixed forest-agricultural landscape in southern Portugal, fragmented by roads. Specifically, we aimed to: (i) identify and characterise the behavioural states displayed by genets and related movement patterns; and (ii) understand how behavioural states are influenced by proximity to main paved roads and landscape features. We used a multivariate Hidden Markov Model (HMM) to characterise the fine-scale movements (10-min fixes GPS) of seven genets tracked during 187 nights (mean 27 days per individual) during the period 2016–2019, using distance to major paved roads and landscape features as predictors. Our findings indicated that genet’s movement patterns were composed of three basic behavioural states, classified as “resting” (short step-lengths [mean = 10.6 m] and highly tortuous), “foraging” (intermediate step-lengths [mean = 46.1 m] and with a wide range in turning angle) and “travelling” (longer step-lengths [mean = 113.7 m] and mainly linear movements). Within the genet’s main activity-period (17.00 h-08.00 h), the movement model predicts that genets spend 36.7% of their time travelling, 35.4% foraging and 28.0% resting. The probability of genets displaying the travelling state was highest in areas far away from roads (> 500 m), whereas foraging and resting states were more likely in areas relatively close to roads (up to 500 m). Landscape features also had a pronounced effect on behaviour state occurrence. More specifically, travelling was most likely to occur in areas with lower forest edge density and close to riparian habitats, while foraging was more likely to occur in areas with higher forest edge density and far away from riparian habitats. The results suggest that, although roads represent a behavioural barrier to the movement of genets, they also take advantage of road proximity as foraging areas. Our study demonstrates that the HMM approach is useful for disentangling movement behaviour and understanding how animals respond to roadsides and fragmented habitats. We emphasise that road-engaged stakeholders need to consider movement behaviour of genets when targeting management practices to maximise road permeability for wildlife.
Type: article
Appears in Collections:MED - Publicações - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais Com Arbitragem Científica
BIO - Publicações - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais Com Arbitragem Científica

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