Editor's choice January/February 2024

Submitted by editor on 29 December 2023. Get the paper!

The editor’s choice is the article by Kirol and Fedy: “Using individual-based habitat selection analyses to understand the nuances of habitat use in an anthropogenic landscape: a case study using greater sage-grouse trying to raise young in an oil and gas field”.

Wildlife management actions typically focus on the population level. Consequently, wildlife studies with a management orientation generally delineate habitat selection by utilizing a pooled sample of individuals to characterize the broader population’s behaviour. Individual variation is typically obscured, if not ignored in such population-level analyses. However, individuals of the same population, as well as populations of the same species, may show contrasting patterns of habitat use and other behaviours. Such differences can be attributed to factors such as age, social position, experience and learning.  In their paper, Kirol and Fedy explore fine-scale habitat selection and space use of brood-rearing female greater sage-grouse Centrocercus urophasianus in an oil and gas field. Brood-rearing females consistently avoided disturbed surfaces, but there was significant variation among individuals in their responses to specific anthropogenic features such as infrastructure and water bodies. In particular, more experienced females showed the stronger avoidance of disturbed areas compared to inexperienced first-year breeders. Analysis at the individual level revealed variations in habitat selection that were not evident in population-level models. Open questions for future studies revolve around understanding the fitness consequences of the observed behaviours.

/Ilse Storch