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Large herbivores surf waves of green-up during spring


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Jerod A. Merkle, Kevin L. Monteith, Ellen O. Aikens, Matthew M. Hayes, Kent R. Hersey, Arthur D. Middleton, Brendan A. Oates, Hall Sawyer, Brandon M. Scurlock, and Matthew J. Kauffman. 2016. Large herbivores surf waves of green-up during spring: Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences, v. 283, 8 p.


The green wave hypothesis (GWH) states that migrating animals should track or ‘surf’ high-quality forage at the leading edge of spring green-up. To index such high-quality forage, recent work proposed the instantaneous rate of green-up (IRG), i.e. rate of change in the normalized difference vegetation index over time. Despite this important advancement, no study has tested the assumption that herbivores select habitat patches at peak IRG. We evaluated this assumption using step selection functions parametrized with movement data during the green-up period from two populations each of bighorn sheep, mule deer, elk, moose and bison, totalling 463 individuals monitored 1–3 years from 2004 to 2014. Accounting for variables that typically [...]


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  • National CASC
  • National and Regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers

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journalProceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences
typeDOI Number
valueDOI: 10.1098/rspb.2016.0456

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