Variability in nomadism: environmental gradients modulate the movement behaviors of dryland ungulates

Type Article
Date 2019-11
Language English
Author(s) Nandintsetseg Dejid1, 2, 3, Bracis Chloe1, 2, 4, Leimgruber Peter3, Kaczensky Petra5, 6, Buuveibaatar Bayarbaatar7, Lkhagvasuren Badamjav8, Chimeddorj Buyanaa9, Enkhtuvshin Shiilegdamba7, Horning Ned10, Ito Takehiko Y.11, 12, Olson Kirk7, Payne John7, Walzer Chris6, 7, Shinoda Masato13, Stabach Jared3, Songer Melissa3, Mueller Thomas1, 2, 3
Affiliation(s) 1 : Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung 60325 Frankfurt (Main)? Germany
2 : Department of Biological Sciences Goethe University Frankfurt 60438 Frankfurt (Main),Germany
3 : Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, National Zoological Park Front Royal Virginia 22630, USA
4 : Ifremer, Channel and North Sea Fisheries Research Unit Boulogne‐sur‐Mer, France
5 : Norwegian Institute for Nature Research NO‐7485 Trondheim ,Norway
6 : Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna ViennaA‐1160, Austria
7 : Mongolia Program Wildlife Conservation Society Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
8 : Institute of General and Experimental Biology Mongolian Academy of Sciences Ulaanbaatar 13330 ,Mongolia
9 : Mongolia Program Office World Wide Fund for Nature Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
10 : American Museum of Natural History's Center for Biodiversity and Conservation New York New York, USA
11 : Arid Land Research Center Tottori University Tottori 680‐0001, Japan
12 : Organization for the Strategic Coordination of Research and Intellectual Properties Meiji University Tokyo 168‐8558 ,Japan
13 : Graduate School of Environmental Studies Nagoya University Nagoya 464‐8601 ,Japan
Source Ecosphere (2150-8925) (Wiley), 2019-11 , Vol. 10 , N. 11 , P. e02924 (13p.)
DOI 10.1002/ecs2.2924
WOS© Times Cited 4
Keyword(s) animal movement, arid, forage, nomadism, recursion, resource, ungulate, water

Studying nomadic animal movement across species and ecosystems is essential for better understanding variability in nomadism. In arid environments, unpredictable changes in water and forage resources are known drivers of nomadic movements. Water resources vary temporally but are often spatially stationary, whereas foraging resources are often both temporally and spatially variable. These differences may lead to different types of nomadic movements: forage‐ vs. water‐driven nomadism. Our study investigates these two different types of nomadism in relation to resource gradients from mesic steppe to xeric desert environments in Mongolia's Gobi‐Steppe Ecosystem. We hypothesized that in the desert, where water is a key resource, animals are more water‐dependent and may show water‐driven nomadism with frequent revisits to spatially fixed resources, while in the steppe, animals are less water‐dependent and may show forage‐driven nomadism, tracking high‐quality foraging patches with infrequent revisits to previously used resources. We utilized GPS movement data from 40 individuals of four ungulate species (Mongolian gazelle, goitered gazelle, saiga antelope, and Asiatic wild ass) in the Gobi‐Steppe Ecosystem. We calculated displacement distances and recursion metrics and subsequently performed a principal component analysis to quantify the variation in movement patterns. The satellite‐derived vegetation greenness served as a proxy for the resource gradient and was associated with variation in movement behaviors described by the first principal component, demonstrating that the variability in movements was closely related to the resource gradient from mesic to xeric habitats. We showed that ungulates in the resource‐rich steppe tended to move long distances with few revisits (forage‐driven nomadism), while ungulates in the resource‐poor desert tended to move shorter distances with more revisits (water‐driven nomadism). Our results suggest that xeric and mesic habitats promote different types of nomadic strategies. These results have important implications for conservation strategies: Forage‐driven nomads primarily require a high degree of landscape‐level permeability, and water‐driven nomads additionally require the protection of ephemeral water bodies and actions to maintain the functional connectivity between them.

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Nandintsetseg Dejid, Bracis Chloe, Leimgruber Peter, Kaczensky Petra, Buuveibaatar Bayarbaatar, Lkhagvasuren Badamjav, Chimeddorj Buyanaa, Enkhtuvshin Shiilegdamba, Horning Ned, Ito Takehiko Y., Olson Kirk, Payne John, Walzer Chris, Shinoda Masato, Stabach Jared, Songer Melissa, Mueller Thomas (2019). Variability in nomadism: environmental gradients modulate the movement behaviors of dryland ungulates. Ecosphere, 10(11), e02924 (13p.). Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :