Journal of Animal Ecology

LiDAR reveals a preference for intermediate visibility by a forest‐dwelling ungulate species

Publication Date Nov 29, 2022


Visibility (viewshed) plays a significant and diverse role in animals' behaviour and fitness. Understanding how visibility influences animal behaviour requires the measurement of habitat visibility at spatial scales commensurate to individual animal choices. However, measuring habitat visibility at a fine spatial scale over a landscape is a challenge, particularly in highly heterogeneous landscapes (e.g. forests). As a result, our ability to model the influence of fine-scale visibility on animal behaviour has been impeded or limited. In this study, we demonstrate the application of the concept of three-dimensional (3D) cumulative viewshed in the study of animal spatial behaviour at a landscape level. Specifically, we employed a newly described approach that combines terrestrial and airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) to measure fine-scale habitat visibility (3D cumulative viewshed) on a continuous scale in forested landscapes. We applied the LiDAR-derived visibility to investigate how visibility in forests affects the summer habitat selection and the movement of 20 GPS-collared female red deer Cervus elaphus in a temperate forest in Germany. We used integrated step selection analysis to determine whether red deer show any preference for fine-scale habitat visibility and whether visibility is related to the rate of movement of red deer. We found that red deer selected intermediate habitat visibility. Their preferred level of visibility during the day was substantially lower than that of night and twilight, whereas th...


Habitat Visibility Animal Behaviour Light Detection And Ranging Red Deer Light Detection And Ranging Technique Landscape Level Forest In Germany Anthropogenic Risk Fine Spatial Scale Ungulate Species

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