Influence of Early Experience on Dispersal and Habitat Selection Behavior

EPA Grant Number: FP916395
Title: Influence of Early Experience on Dispersal and Habitat Selection Behavior
Investigators: Mabry, Karen E.
Institution: University of California - Davis
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: January 1, 2004 through December 31, 2004
Project Amount: $98,533
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Zoology , Academic Fellowships , Biology/Life Sciences


The objective of this research project is to determine the relationship between previous experience with a particular habitat type and the response of dispersing brush mice (Peromyscus boylii) to the different habitat types encountered while dispersing through a heterogeneous landscape and selecting a new home range. I am testing the following two hypotheses to explain the response of dispersers to different habitat types:

(1) Experience in the natal habitat type affects response to different habitat types such that dispersers are more likely to travel through and/or settle in the natal habitat type. In this situation, there are significant interactions between experience in the natal habitat type and response to features of different habitat types.

(2) Dispersers respond similarly to different habitat types, no matter which habitat type they were reared in. In this situation, animals are responding to inherent features of the different habitat types.


I am using two approaches to investigate the role of HPI on dispersal and habitat selection of brush mice. First, I am using radiotelemetry to observe the natural dispersal and habitat selection behavior of juveniles born near boundaries between chaparral and oak woodland habitat types. Results of this study will determine how dispersing brush mice respond to large scale habitat variation. Second, I propose an experiment to determine which habitat type dispersers select when released on boundaries between oak woodland and chaparral in unfamiliar areas. I expect to find that familiarity does influence movement and habitat selection patterns. In particular, I expect to find that dispersers will spend more time searching in the natal habitat type than expected based on habitat availability and that experience with a habitat type will increase the probability of settling in that habitat type.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, radiotelemetry, brush mice, Peromyscus boylii, oak woodland, chaparral, habitat patterns, habitat selection, dispersers, natal habitat type, habitat availability,, Scientific Discipline, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Zoology, Habitat, Ecology and Ecosystems, brush mice, habitat selection, habitat use, animal responses, habitat disturbance, habitat loss, natal habitat response

Relevant Websites:

2004 STAR Graduate Fellowship Conference Poster (PDF, 1p., 117KB, about PDF)

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final