Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Pennsylvania
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Wagner, T., D.R. Diefenbach, A.S. Norton, and S.A. Christensen. 2011. Using multilevel models to quantify heterogeneity in resource selection. Journal of Wildlife Management 75:1788-1796.


Models of resource selection are being used increasingly to predict or model the effects of management actions rather than simply quantifying habitat selection. Multilevel, or hierarchical, models are becoming an increasingly popular method to analyze animal resource selection because they impose a relatively weak stochastic constraint to model heterogeneity in habitat use but also account for unequal sample sizes among individuals. However, few studies have taken advantage of the ability of multilevel models to model coefficients as a function of predictors that may influence habitat use at different scales or quantify differences in resource selection among groups. We use an example with white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) to illustrate how to model resource use as a function of distance to road that varies among deer by road density at the home range scale. Also, we use multilevel models with sika deer (Cervus nippon) and white-tailed deer to examine whether resource selection differs between species. Multilevel models can improve our understanding of how resource selection varies among individuals and provides an objective, quantifiable approach to assess differences or changes in resource selection.