U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Cunningham, F.L.;Wang, G.; King, D.T. Seasonal Habitat Selection by American White Pelicans. Diversity 2022, 14, 821. https://doi.org/10.3390/d14100821


Open access


Resource utilization strategies of avian migrants are a major concern for conservation and management. Understanding seasonal habitat selection by migratory birds helps us explain the ongoing continental declines of migratory bird populations. Our objective was to compare the secondorder and third-order habitat selection by the American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos; hereafter pelican) between the breeding and non-breeding grounds. We tested the Lack hypothesis that habitat selection by migratory birds is stronger on the breeding grounds than on the nonbreeding grounds. We used random-effect Dirichlet-multinomial models to estimate the second-order habitat selection between the seasons with the GPS locations of 32 tracked pelicans. We used Gaussian Markov random field models to estimate the third-order habitat selection by pelicans at the breeding and non-breeding grounds, accounting for spatial autocorrelation. Pelicans strongly selected waterbodies and wetlands at both non-breeding and breeding grounds, tracking their foraging habitats between the seasons at the home range level. However, pelicans exhibited seasonal differences in the strength of the third-order selection of wetlands and waterbodies with foraging habitat selection being stronger at the breeding grounds than at the non-breeding grounds, supporting the Lack hypothesis.