Home range size and resource use of breeding and non-breeding white storks along a land use gradient

Damaris Zurell, Henrik von Wehrden, Shay Rotics, Michael Kaatz, Helge Groß, Lena Schlag, Merlin Schäfer, Nir Sapir, Sondra Turjeman, Martin Wikelski, Ran Nathan, Florian Jeltsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Biotelemetry is increasingly used to study animal movement at high spatial and temporal resolution and guide conservation and resource management. Yet, limited sample sizes and variation in space and habitat use across regions and life stages may compromise robustness of behavioral analyses and subsequent conservation plans. Here, we assessed variation in (i) home range sizes, (ii) home range selection, and (iii) fine-scale resource selection of white storks across breeding status and regions and test model transferability. Three study areas were chosen within the Central German breeding grounds ranging from agricultural to fluvial and marshland. We monitored GPS-locations of 62 adult white storks equipped with solar-charged GPS/3D-acceleration (ACC) transmitters in 2013-2014. Home range sizes were estimated using minimum convex polygons. Generalized linear mixed models were used to assess home range selection and fine-scale resource selection by relating the home ranges and foraging sites to Corine habitat variables and normalized difference vegetation index in a presence/pseudo-absence design. We found strong variation in home range sizes across breeding stages with significantly larger home ranges in non-breeding compared to breeding white storks, but no variation between regions. Home range selection models had high explanatory power and well predicted overall density of Central German white stork breeding pairs. Also, they showed good transferability across regions and breeding status although variable importance varied considerably. Fine-scale resource selection models showed low explanatory power. Resource preferences differed both across breeding status and across regions, and model transferability was poor. Our results indicate that habitat selection of wild animals may vary considerably within and between populations, and is highly scale dependent. Thereby, home range scale analyses show higher robustness whereas fine-scale resource selection is not easily predictable and not transferable across life stages and regions. Such variation may compromise management decisions when based on data of limited sample size or limited regional coverage. We thus recommend home range scale analyses and sampling designs that cover diverse regional landscapes and ensure robust estimates of habitat suitability to conserve wild animal populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number79
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Issue numberJUN
StatePublished - 12 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • 3D-acceleration sensor
  • Biotelemetry
  • Ciconia ciconia
  • Home range selection
  • Resource selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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