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Interspecific and Intraspecific Variation in the Movement Ecology of Ectotherms across Different Spatial and Temporal Scales

Benjamin Matthew Reed, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Animals move through their environment to capture prey, find mates, secure refuges, disperse to new areas, thermoregulate, avoid competition, and avoid predation; all of which contribute to fitness. Thus, understanding the factors that affect movement through the environment is an important aspect of an animal’s ecology. Previous studies have shown that across species, home-range size increases with body size, trophic level and increased resource dispersion. With this thesis I contribute to the field of movement ecology of terrestrial ectothermic vertebrates by confirming that interspecific home-range size is related to body size, trophic level, and taxonomic affiliation, and further show that environmental temperature strongly influences home-range size. I examined intraspecific variation in space-use in a population of ornate box turtle (Terrapene ornata ornata) in Nebraska. Turtles in this population displayed site fidelity with stability in between-year home-range size, location, and with re-use of specific microhabitat locations. I correlated space use with environmental variables and individual level traits and found that the individual traits of body condition and behaviors related to exploration were the best correlates of movement variation across individuals. In a supplemental feeding experiment I found that increasing turtle body condition did not result in a corresponding change in home-range size or daily displacement indicating that turtles gain condition as a consequence of moving more or by having a larger home-range area. This work highlights a set of variables correlated with vertebrate ectotherm ranging at either the interspecific or intraspecific level and reveals new relationships between home-range size and both intrinsic and environmental variables.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Reed, Benjamin Matthew, "Interspecific and Intraspecific Variation in the Movement Ecology of Ectotherms across Different Spatial and Temporal Scales" (2018). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI10845582.