Path tortuosity of Eurasian badgers (Meles meles) in a heterogeneous Mediterranean landscape
Loureiro F., Rosalino LM., Macdonald DW., Santos-Reis M.
Movement is the process by which individual organisms are displaced over time to eat, reproduce and defend resources. Fractal analysis is a technique used to study animal movement that measures spatial complexity of path tortuosity; here, we apply it to characterize the movement patterns of the Eurasian badger (Meles meles) in a Mediterranean landscape. We calculated path tortuosity overall and seasonally, and for individuals of different sexes and social groups. The influence of variables related to badgers' resources (food, shelter, water), human infra-structures and weather conditions were analysed with respect to the tortuosity of each badger's path. A total of 55 search paths from six badgers were considered for this study. Although badgers generally displayed convoluted movement, there were two exceptions: (a) males overall and (b) all badgers in summer; for both, movements had a lower fractal value, i.e. were less tortuous. The convoluted movement pattern generally observed is probably adapted to the clumped distribution of food in the study area. Nevertheless, our results suggest that the use of dens and latrines were the principal determinants of tortuosity of badgers' paths while foraging. © 2007 The Ecological Society of Japan.