US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Behavior Research Methods, Instruments,& Computers 1984, Vol. 16 (1), pp. 32-37.


U.S. government work.


Simulations of space use by animals were run to determine the relationship among home range area estimates, variability, and sample size (number of locations). As sample size increased, home range size increased asymptotically, whereas variability decreased among mean home range area estimates generated by multiple simulations for the same sample size. Our results suggest that field workers should ascertain between 100 and 200 locations in order to estimate reliably home range area. In some cases, this suggested guideline is higher than values found in the few published studies in which the relationship between home range area and number of locations is addressed. Sampling differences for small species occupying relatively small home ranges indicate that fewer locations may be sufficient to allow for a reliable estimate of home range. Intraspecific variability in social status (group member, loner, resident, transient), age, sex, reproductive condition, and food resources also have to be considered, as do season, habitat, and differences in sampling and analytical methods. Comparative data still are needed.