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Ecol Lett. 2017 Jun;20(6):741-750. doi: 10.1111/ele.12772. Epub 2017 Apr 25.

The greenscape shapes surfing of resource waves in a large migratory herbivore.

Author information

1
Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Zoology and Physiology, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, 82071, USA.
2
Program in Ecology, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, 82071, USA.
3
U.S. Geological Survey, Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Zoology and Physiology, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, 82071, USA.
4
Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Thayne, WY, 83127, USA.
5
Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, 82072, USA.

Abstract

The Green Wave Hypothesis posits that herbivore migration manifests in response to waves of spring green-up (i.e. green-wave surfing). Nonetheless, empirical support for the Green Wave Hypothesis is mixed, and a framework for understanding variation in surfing is lacking. In a population of migratory mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), 31% surfed plant phenology in spring as well as a theoretically perfect surfer, and 98% surfed better than random. Green-wave surfing varied among individuals and was unrelated to age or energetic state. Instead, the greenscape, which we define as the order, rate and duration of green-up along migratory routes, was the primary factor influencing surfing. Our results indicate that migratory routes are more than a link between seasonal ranges, and they provide an important, but often overlooked, foraging habitat. In addition, the spatiotemporal configuration of forage resources that propagate along migratory routes shape animal movement and presumably, energy gains during migration.

KEYWORDS:

Odocoileus hemionus ; Forage maturation hypothesis; Wyoming; green wave hypothesis; migration; mule deer; normalised difference vegetation index; phenology; resource landscape; ungulate

PMID:
28444870
DOI:
10.1111/ele.12772
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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