Using step and path selection functions for estimating resistance to movement: pumas as a case study

Katherine A. Zeller, Kevin McGarigal, Samuel A. Cushman, Paul Beier, T. Winston Vickers, Walter M. Boyce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Context: GPS telemetry collars and their ability to acquire accurate and consistently frequent locations have increased the use of step selection functions (SSFs) and path selection functions (PathSFs) for studying animal movement and estimating resistance. However, previously published SSFs and PathSFs often do not accommodate multiple scales or multi-scale modeling. Objectives: We present a method that allows multiple scales to be analyzed with SSF and PathSF models. We also explore the sensitivity of model results and resistance surfaces to whether SSFs or PathSFs are used, scale, prediction framework, and GPS collar sampling interval. Methods: We use 5-min GPS collar data from pumas (Puma concolor) in southern California to model SSFs and PathSFs at multiple scales, to predict resistance using two prediction frameworks (paired and unpaired), and to explore potential bias from GPS collar sampling intervals. Results: Regression coefficients were extremely sensitive to scale and pumas exhibited multiple scales of selection during movement. We found PathSFs produced stronger regression coefficients, larger resistance values, and superior model performance than SSFs. We observed more heterogeneous surfaces when resistance was predicted in a paired framework compared with an unpaired framework. Lastly, we observed bias in habitat use and resistance results when using a GPS collar sampling interval longer than 5 min. Conclusions: The methods presented provide a novel way to model multi-scale habitat selection and resistance from movement data. Due to the sensitivity of resistance surfaces to method, scale, and GPS schedule, care should be used when modeling corridors for conservation purposes using these methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1319-1335
Number of pages17
JournalLandscape Ecology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Connectivity
  • Corridors
  • Multi-scale habitat modeling
  • Puma concolor
  • Resistance surface
  • Wildlife

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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