Spatial Analysis of Plateau Pika Habitat Use
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
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The habitat occupied by animals during their normal activities is referred to as their home range. This physical space contains limited resources that are necessary for reproduction and survival. Using spatial analysis techniques, we studied the habitat use of adult plateau pikas (Ochotona curzoniae) based on their home ranges and burrow locations on the Tibetan plateau. This was done for pikas exclusively within their own families, which is referred to as the family data, and also for individuals without taking their families into account, which is referred to as the individual data. We used spatial models to identify the microhabitat characteristics that influenced pika activity and to measure the spatial autocorrelation between the areas of home range overlap. We hypothesized that edges between microhabitats are most beneficial to pikas because there is access to food and cover from predators available. The edges between sedge and black sand microhabitats had a small effect on the level of pika activity for the family data. The edges between sedge and black sand, and the edge between sedge and small depressions, both had a large effect on the level of pika activity for the individual data. The burrows, which pikas can use to hide from predators, had a small effect on the level of pika activity for the individual data and a trivial effect for the family data. We found that the amount of sedge, which pikas feed on, had a trivial effect on pika activity for both the individual and family data. It seems that the edges, which provide a combination of food and cover from predators, had a larger effect than food, as sedge, and cover, as burrows, did individually. Neither the individual nor family data were significantly influenced by spatial autocorrelation.