Data from: Summer precipitation predicts spatial distributions of semiaquatic mammals

Ahlers AA, Cotner LA, Wolff PJ, Mitchell MA, Heske EJ, Schooley RL. 2015. Data from: Summer precipitation predicts spatial distributions of semiaquatic mammals. Movebank Data Repository.
Climate change is predicted to increase the frequency of droughts and intensity of seasonal precipitation in many regions. Semiaquatic mammals should be vulnerable to this increased variability in precipitation, especially in human-modified landscapes where dispersal to suitable habitat or temporary refugia may be limited. Using six years of presence-absence data (2007–2012) spanning years of record-breaking drought and flood conditions, we evaluated regional occupancy dynamics of American mink (Neovison vison) and muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus) in a highly altered agroecosystem in Illinois, USA. We used noninvasive sign surveys and a multiseason occupancy modeling approach to estimate annual occupancy rates for both species and related these rates to summer precipitation. We also tracked radiomarked individuals to assess mortality risk for both species when moving in terrestrial areas. Annual model-averaged estimates of occupancy for mink and muskrat were correlated positively to summer precipitation. Mink and muskrats were widespread during a year (2008) with above-average precipitation. However, estimates of site occupancy declined substantially for mink (0.56) and especially muskrats (0.09) during the severe drought of 2012. Mink are generalist predators that probably use terrestrial habitat during droughts. However, mink had substantially greater risk of mortality away from streams. In comparison, muskrats are more restricted to aquatic habitats and likely suffered high mortality during the drought. Our patterns are striking, but a more mechanistic understanding is needed of how semiaquatic species in human-modified ecosystems will respond ecologically in situ to extreme weather events predicted by climate-change models.
Ondatra zibethicus,animal tracking,climate change,drought,habitat loss,Illinois,muskrat,Neovison vison,Ondatra zibethicus,predator-prey,radio telemetry
Ondatra zibethicus
Common Muskrat, Muskbeaver, Muskrat
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  title = {Data from: Summer precipitation predicts spatial distributions of semiaquatic mammals},
  author = {Ahlers, AA and Cotner, LA and Wolff, PJ and Mitchell, MA and Heske, EJ and Schooley, RL},
  year = {2015},
  URL = {},
  doi = {doi:10.5441/001/1.gd686078},
  publisher = {Movebank data repository}
ID  - doi:10.5441/001/1.gd686078
T1  - Data from: Summer precipitation predicts spatial distributions of semiaquatic mammals
AU  - Ahlers, Adam A.
AU  - Cotner, Lisa A.
AU  - Wolff, Patrick J.
AU  - Mitchell, Mark A.
AU  - Heske, Edward J.
AU  - Schooley, Robert L.
Y1  - 2015/09/24
KW  - Ondatra zibethicus
KW  - American mink
KW  - animal tracking
KW  - climate change
KW  - drought
KW  - habitat loss
KW  - Illinois
KW  - muskrat
KW  - Neovison vison
KW  - Ondatra zibethicus
KW  - predator-prey
KW  - radio telemetry
KW  - Ondatra zibethicus
PB  - Movebank data repository
UR  -
DO  - doi:10.5441/001/1.gd686078
ER  -