Explaining and predicting animal distributions is one of the fundamental objectives in ecology and conservation biology. Animal habitat selection can be regulated by top-down and bottom-up processes, and is mediated by species interactions. Species varying in body size respond differently to top-down and bottom-up determinants, and hence understanding these allometric responses to those determinants is important for conservation. In this study, using two differently sized goose species wintering in the Yangtze floodplain, we tested the predictions derived from three different hypotheses (individual-area relationship, food resource and disturbance hypothesis) to explain the spatial and temporal variation in densities of two goose species. Using Generalized Linear Mixed Models with a Markov Chain Monte Carlo technique, we demonstrated that goose density was positive correlated with patch area size, suggesting that the individual area-relationship best predicts differences in goose densities. Moreover, the other predictions, related to food availability and disturbance, were not significant. Buffalo grazing probably facilitated greater white-fronted geese, as the number of buffalos was positively correlated to the density of this species. We concluded that patch area size is the most important factor determining the density of goose species in our study area. Patch area size is directly determined by water levels in the Yangtze floodplain, and hence modifying the hydrological regimes can enlarge the capacity of these wetlands for migratory birds.
Zhang, Y., Jia, Q., Prins, H. H. T., Cao, L., & De Boer, W. F. (2015). Individual-area relationship best explains goose species density in wetlands. PLoS ONE, 10(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0124972