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


Date of this Version

February 2006


Can. J. Zool. 84: 1703-171 1 (2006).


Information on the ecology and evolution of a species can be enhanced by studying spatial ecology. Even though space use has been a focus of carnivore research for decades, the theoretical framework for such studies remains poorly developed. Most spatial ecology theory has instead been developed and tested with invertebrates and expanded into fishery and ornithological research. The goal of this review is to examine spatial theories being tested in other taxonomic groups that could positively influence how carnivore biologists design studies. Details are provided from studies that illustrate methods to quantify space use, and four broad areas of spatial theory are reviewed: conspecific attraction, territory establishment, within-territory space use, and inheritance of space use. Suggestions are given on how carnivore biologists could incorporate each of these components into study designs. Carnivore biologists have opportunities to test spatial theory at small and large scales that could ultimately advance the entire field of spatial ecology. Although this review focuses on improving studies of terrestrial carnivores, our suggestions are relevant for studies of spatial theories across taxa.