Linking animal movement, landscape ecology and population dynamics for sustainable livestock management
Agustina Soledad di Virgilio
Colorado State University
A better understanding of animal movement and the feedback relationship between internal and external drivers is highly relevant not only in an ecological context but also for conservation and management. Sheep movement on Patagonian rangelands represents an interesting opportunity to collect a complete data set to assess these reciprocal interactions, and to link ecological information with landscape and population dynamics for the development of management tools. Moreover, considering the lack of a general strategy and the inconsistencies between the outcomes of different strategies applied under different landscape scenarios, it will be very useful to count with tools that allow the evaluation of the long term effects of strategies on livestock production and landscape dynamics. Under this background context, the main objective of my Ph.D. project is to develop movement models for sheep on heterogeneous landscapes, explicitly considering the reciprocal interactions between movement decisions with both landscape traits and individual condition that could be used for the development of sustainable livestock management strategies. Also, I want to make them easily extendible to other herbivores species (domestic or wild), landscapes and management scenarios in order to extend their application to other systems. In order to fulfill this aim, my work during this internship will allow me to enhance the predictability and robustness of my outcomes, which will in turn affect the applicability of my research for decision making purposes.