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A GIS approach to identifying territorial resource competition

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Computer simulations using a geographical information system were developed to investigate the relationships between the habitat composition of red grouse territories and the alignment of territory boundaries in relation to vegetation patterns. Field data were from a fifteen year study on Kerloch Moor, north-east Scotland, between 1963 and 1977.

In order to determine whether observed territories were arranged randomly with respect to a number of habitat characteristics, they were compared with many simulated sets of possible territory arrangements by translation of the territory boundaries to a number of different positions relative to the vegetation mosaic. A suite of summary statistics was calculated for the simulated configurations, against which the observed configurations were tested.

There was little evidence for territorial resource competition by red grouse. The positions of territories were not strongly influenced by their composition in terms of vegetation types or heather edge. Neither was there any obvious preference for territory boundaries to lie within particular vegetation types. However, there was clear evidence that physical features of the habitat (fences, walls, tracks, etc.) had a strong influence on the position of territory boundaries.

Temporal and spatial habitat heterogeneity led to a number of technical and analytical problems, and the implications of these are discussed.

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Document Type: Original Article

Publication date: October 1, 2000

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