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    Step selection techniques uncover the environmental predictors of space use patterns in flocks of Amazonian birds


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        1. Anthropogenic actions cause rapid ecological changes, meaning that animals have to respond before they have time to adapt. Tools to quantify emergent spatial patterns from animal-habitat interaction mechanisms are vital for predicting the population-level effects of such changes. 2. Environmental perturbations are particularly prevalent in the Amazon rainforest, and have a profound effect on fragmentation-sensitive insectivorous bird flocks. Therefore it is important to be able to predict the effects of such changes on the flocks' space-use patterns. 3. We use a step selection function (SSF) approach to uncover environmental drivers behind movement choices. This is used to construct a mechanistic model, from which we derive predicted utilization distributions (home ranges) of flocks. 4. We show that movement decisions are significantly influenced by canopy height and topography, but not resource depletion and renewal. We quantify the magnitude of these effects and demonstrate that they are helpful for understanding various heterogeneous aspects of space use. We compare our results to recent analytic derivations of space use, demonstrating that they are only accurate when assuming that there is no persistence in the animals' movement. 5. Our model can be translated into other environments or hypothetical scenarios, such as those given by proposed future anthropogenic actions, to make predictions of spatial patterns in bird flocks. Furthermore, our approach is quite general, so could be used to predict the effects of habitat changes on spatial patterns for a wide variety of animal communities.

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        Climate change over the past approximately 30 years has produced numerous shifts in the distributions and abundances of species and has been implicated in one species-level extinction. Using projections of species' distributions for future climate scenarios, we assess extinction risks for sample regions that cover some 20% of the Earth's terrestrial surface. Exploring three approaches in which the estimated probability of extinction shows a power-law relationship with geographical range size, we predict, on the basis of mid-range climate-warming scenarios for 2050, that 15-37% of species in our sample of regions and taxa will be 'committed to extinction'. When the average of the three methods and two dispersal scenarios is taken, minimal climate-warming scenarios produce lower projections of species committed to extinction ( approximately 18%) than mid-range ( approximately 24%) and maximum-change ( approximately 35%) scenarios. These estimates show the importance of rapid implementation of technologies to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and strategies for carbon sequestration.
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          Kernel Methods for Estimating the Utilization Distribution in Home-Range Studies

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            Consequences of changing biodiversity.

            Human alteration of the global environment has triggered the sixth major extinction event in the history of life and caused widespread changes in the global distribution of organisms. These changes in biodiversity alter ecosystem processes and change the resilience of ecosystems to environmental change. This has profound consequences for services that humans derive from ecosystems. The large ecological and societal consequences of changing biodiversity should be minimized to preserve options for future solutions to global environmental problems.

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              Evolutionary Biology


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