Marco Musiani

The University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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Publications (58)305.14 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Human-caused harassment and mortality (e.g. hunting) affects many aspects of wildlife population dynamics and social structure. Little is known, however, about the social and physiological effects of hunting, which might provide valuable insights into the mechanisms by which wildlife respond to human-caused mortality.To investigate physiological consequences of hunting, we measured stress and reproductive hormones in hair, which reflect endocrine activity during hair growth. Applying this novel approach, we compared steroid hormone levels in hair of wolves (Canis lupus) living in Canada's tundra–taiga (n = 103) that experience heavy rates of hunting with those in the northern boreal forest (n = 45) where hunting pressure is substantially lower.The hair samples revealed that progesterone was higher in tundra–taiga wolves, possibly reflecting increased reproductive effort and social disruption in response to human-related mortality. Tundra–taiga wolves also had higher testosterone and cortisol levels, which may reflect social instability.To control for habitat differences, we also measured cortisol in an out-group of boreal forest wolves (n = 30) that were killed as part of a control programme. Cortisol was higher in the boreal out-group than in our study population from the northern boreal forest.Overall, our findings support the social and physiological consequences of human-caused mortality. Long-term implications of altered physiological responses should be considered in management and conservations strategies.
    Functional Ecology 10/2014; · 4.86 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In Southwest Alberta, beef cattle and wild elk (Cervus elaphus) have similar habitat preferences. Understanding their inter-species contact structure is important for assessing the risk of pathogen transmission between them. These spatio-temporal patterns of interactions are shaped, in part, by range management and environmental factors affecting elk distribution. In this study, resource selection modelling was used to identify factors influencing elk presence on cattle pasture and elk selection of foraging patches; furthermore, consequences for inter-species disease transmission were discussed. Data on pasture management practices and observations of elk were collected from 15 ranchers during interviews. Pasture use by elk was defined based on telemetry data (from GPS collars deployed on 168 elk in 7 herds) and rancher observations. At the patch scale, foraging patches used by elk were identified by spatio-temporal cluster analysis of telemetry data, whereas available patches were randomly generated outside the area delimited by used patches. For pastures and patches, landscape and human-managed features were characterized using remote sensing data and interviews, respectively. Attributes of available and used pastures (or patches) were compared using resource selection functions, on annual and seasonal (or annual and monthly) time scales. Additionally, intensity of pasture use was modelled using negative binomial regression. Cultivated hay land and mineral supplements were associated with elk presence on cattle pastures, whereas pastures with manure fertilization and higher traffic-weighted road densities were less likely to be used by elk. The effects of landscape (elevation, aspect, water access) and vegetation (forest cover, Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) characteristics on patch selection were consistent with typical elk habitat requirements. The presence of cattle and the traffic-weighted road density were negatively associated with patch selection. The apparent avoidance of cattle by elk reduced the risk of direct transmission of pathogens, except during winter months. However, human-managed features attracting elk to cattle pastures (e.g. hay land and mineral supplements) may increase inter-species pathogen transmission through indirect contacts.
    Preventive Veterinary Medicine 08/2014; · 2.39 Impact Factor
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    Movement Ecology. 07/2014; 2(13).
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    ABSTRACT: In southwestern Alberta, interactions between beef cattle and free-ranging elk (Cervus elaphus) may provide opportunities for pathogen transmission. To assess the importance of the transmission route on the potential for interspecies transmission, we conducted a cross-sectional study on four endemic livestock pathogens with three different transmission routes: Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus and Bovine Herpesvirus 1 (predominantly direct transmission), Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) (indirect fecal-oral transmission), Neospora caninum (indirect transmission with definitive host). We assessed the occurrence of these pathogens in 28 cow-calf operations exposed or non-exposed to elk, and in 10 elk herds exposed or not to cattle. We characterized the effect of species commingling as a risk factor of pathogen exposure and documented the perceived risk of pathogen transmission at this wildlife-livestock interface in the rural community. Herpesviruses found in elk were elk-specific gamma-herpesviruses unrelated to cattle viruses. Pestivirus exposure in elk could not be ascertained to be of livestock origin. Evidence of MAP circulation was found in both elk and cattle, but there was no statistical effect of the species commingling. Finally, N. caninum was more frequently detected in elk exposed to cattle and this association was still significant after adjustment for herd and sampling year clustering, and individual elk age and sex. Only indirectly transmitted pathogens co-occurred in cattle and elk, indicating the potential importance of the transmission route in assessing the risk of pathogen transmission in multi-species grazing systems.
    Veterinary Research 02/2014; 45(1):18. · 3.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Climate-driven range fluctuations during the Pleistocene have continuously reshaped species distribution leading to populations of contrasting genetic diversity. Contemporary climate change is similarly influencing species distribution and population structure, with important consequences for patterns of genetic diversity and species’ evolutionary potential. Yet few studies assess the impacts of global climatic changes on intraspecific genetic variation. Here, combining analyses of molecular data with time series of predicted species distributions and a model of diffusion through time over the past 21 kyr, we unravel caribou response to past and future climate changes across its entire Holarctic distribution. We found that genetic diversity is geographically structured with two main caribou lineages, one originating from and confined to Northeastern America, the other originating from Euro-Beringia but also currently distributed in western North America. Regions that remained climatically stable over the past 21 kyr maintained a high genetic diversity and are also predicted to experience higher climatic stability under future climate change scenarios. Our interdisciplinary approach, combining genetic data and spatial analyses of climatic stability (applicable to virtually any taxon), represents a significant advance in inferring how climate shapes genetic diversity and impacts genetic structure.
    Nature Climate Change 01/2014; 4:132-137. · 14.47 Impact Factor
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    Nature 12/2013; · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A central assumption underlying the study of habitat selection is that selected habitats confer enhanced fitness. Unfortunately, this assumption is rarely tested, and in some systems gradients of predation risk may more accurately characterize spatial variation in vital rates than gradients described by habitat selection studies. Here, we separately measured spatial patterns of both resource selection and predation risk and tested their relationships with a key demographic trait, adult female survival, for a threatened ungulate, woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou Gmelin). We also evaluated whether exposure to gradients in both predation risk and resource selection value were manifested temporally through instantaneous or seasonal effects on survival outcomes. We used Cox-proportional hazards spatial survival modeling to assess the relative support for 5 selection- and risk-based definitions of habitat quality, as quantified by woodland caribou adult female survival. These hypotheses included scenarios in which selection ideally mirrored survival, risk entirely drove survival, non-ideal selection correlated to survival but with additive risk effects, an ecological trap with maladaptive selection, and a non-spatial effect of annual variation in weather. Indeed we found positive relationships between the predicted values of a resource selection function (RSF) and survival, yet subsequently incorporating an additional negative effect of predation risk greatly improved models further. This revealed a positive, but non-ideal relationship between selection and survival. Gradients in these covariates were also shown to affect individual survival probability at multiple temporal scales. Exposure to increased predation risk had a relatively instantaneous effect on survival outcomes, whereas variation in habitat suitability predicted by an RSF had both instantaneous and longer-term seasonal effects on survival. Predation risk was an additive source of hazard beyond that detected through selection alone, and woodland caribou selection thus was shown to be non-ideal. Furthermore, by combining spatial adult female survival models with herd-specific estimates of recruitment in matrix population models, we estimated a spatially-explicit landscape of population growth predictions for this endangered species. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Journal of Animal Ecology 09/2013; · 4.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Landscape genetics provides a framework for pinpointing environmental features that determine the important exchange of migrants among populations. These studies usually test the significance of environmental variables on gene flow, yet ignore one fundamental driver of genetic variation in small populations, effective population size, Ne. We combined both approaches in evaluating genetic connectivity of a threatened ungulate, woodland caribou. We used least-cost paths to calculate matrices of resistance distance for landscape variables (preferred habitat, anthropogenic features and predation risk) and population-pairwise harmonic means of Ne, and correlated them with genetic distances, FST and Dc. Results showed that spatial configuration of preferred habitat and Ne were the two best predictors of genetic relationships. Additionally, controlling for the effect of Ne increased the strength of correlations of environmental variables with genetic distance, highlighting the significant underlying effect of Ne in modulating genetic drift and perceived spatial connectivity. We therefore have provided empirical support to emphasize preventing increased habitat loss and promoting population growth to ensure metapopulation viability.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 08/2013; 280(1769):20131756. · 5.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Rural communities are often considered a homogeneous population in resource management. Wolf management is no exception. To understand the diversity of rural attitudes toward wolves and wolf management, data were obtained through a mail questionnaire to rural residents (n = 555; 69% response rate) of southwestern Alberta. Results indicated three distinct clusters differentiated by respondents' attitudes toward: (a) wolves and fear and (b) wolf management. Cluster 1 had negative attitudes toward wolves (n = 85) and was composed of livestock producers and hunters. Cluster 2 was neutral (n = 184), and cluster 3 was positive (n = 276) toward wolves. Cluster 2 and 3 were primarily composed of non-hunters and non-livestock producers. With movement of people into rural areas with varying backgrounds the rural community now has multiple attitudinal groups and wildlife managers will need to tailor their efforts to communicate with different groups.
    Human Dimensions of Wildlife 07/2013; 18(4).
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    ABSTRACT: Anthropogenic disturbances contribute to an animal's perception of and responses to the predation risk of its environment. Because an animal rarely encounters threatening stimuli in isolation, multiple disturbances can act in non-independent ways to shape an animal's landscape of fear, making it challenging to isolate their effects for effective and targeted management. We present extensions to an existing behavioral agent-based model (ABM) to use as an inverse modeling approach to test, in a scenario-sensitivity analysis, whether threatened Alberta boreal caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) differentially respond to industrial features (linear features, forest cutblocks, wellsites) and their attributes: presence, density, harvest age, and wellsite activity status. The spatially explicit ABM encapsulates predation risk, heterogeneous resource distribution, and species-specific energetic requirements, and successfully recreates the general behavioral mechanisms driving habitat selection. To create various industry-driven, predation-risk landscape scenarios for the sensitivity analysis, we allowed caribou agents to differentially perceive and respond to industrial features and their attributes. To identify which industry had the greatest relative influence on caribou habitat use and spatial distribution, simulated caribou movement patterns from each of the scenarios were compared with those of actual caribou from the study area, using a pattern-oriented, multi-response optimization approach. Results revealed caribou have incorporated forestry- and oil and gas features into their landscape of fear that distinctly affect their spatial and energetic responses. The presence of roads, pipelines and seismic lines, and, to a minor extent, high-density cutblocks and active wellsites, all contributed to explaining caribou behavioral responses. Our findings also indicated that both industries produced interaction effects, jointly impacting caribou spatial and energetic patterns, as no one feature could adequately explain anti-predator movement responses. We demonstrate that behavior-based ABMs can be applied to understanding, assessing, and isolating non-consumptive anthropogenic impacts, in support of wildlife management.
    Ecological Complexity 01/2013; · 2.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ongoing debate about whether food webs are primarily regulated by predators or by primary plant productivity, cast as top-down and bottom-up effects, respectively, may becoming superfluous. Given that most of the world's ecosystems are human dominated we broadened this dichotomy by considering human effects in a terrestrial food-web. We studied a multiple human-use landscape in southwest Alberta, Canada, as opposed to protected areas where previous terrestrial food-web studies have been conducted. We used structural equation models (SEMs) to assess the strength and direction of relationships between the density and distribution of: (1) humans, measured using a density index; (2) wolves (Canis lupus), elk (Cervus elpahus) and domestic cattle (Bos taurus), measured using resource selection functions, and; (3) forage quality, quantity and utilization (measured at vegetation sampling plots). Relationships were evaluated by taking advantage of temporal and spatial variation in human density, including day versus night, and two landscapes with the highest and lowest human density in the study area. Here we show that forage-mediated effects of humans had primacy over predator-mediated effects in the food web. In our parsimonious SEM, occurrence of humans was most correlated with occurrence of forage (β = 0.637, p<0.0001). Elk and cattle distribution were correlated with forage (elk day: β = 0.400, p<0.0001; elk night: β = 0.369, p<0.0001; cattle day: β = 0.403, p<0.0001; cattle, night: β = 0.436, p<0.0001), and the distribution of elk or cattle and wolves were positively correlated during daytime (elk: β = 0.293, p <0.0001, cattle: β = 0.303, p<0.0001) and nighttime (elk: β = 0.460, p<0.0001, cattle: β = 0.482, p<0.0001). Our results contrast with research conducted in protected areas that suggested human effects in the food web are primarily predator-mediated. Instead, human influence on vegetation may strengthen bottom-up predominance and weaken top-down trophic cascades in ecosystems. We suggest that human influences on ecosystems may usurp top-down and bottom-up effects.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(5):e64311. · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Howard Dean Cluff, Marco Musiani
    Wild wolves we have known, 1st edited by R.P Thiel, A.C. Thiel, M. Strozewski, 01/2013: chapter 7: pages 59-67; International Wolf Center., ISBN: 978-0-615-86002-2
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    ABSTRACT: Among agents of selection that shape phenotypic traits in animals, humans can cause more rapid changes than many natural factors. Studies have focused on human selection of morphological traits, but little is known about human selection of behavioural traits. By monitoring elk (Cervus elaphus) with satellite telemetry, we tested whether individuals harvested by hunters adopted less favourable behaviours than elk that survived the hunting season. Among 45 2-year-old males, harvested elk showed bolder behaviour, including higher movement rate and increased use of open areas, compared with surviving elk that showed less conspicuous behaviour. Personality clearly drove this pattern, given that inter-individual differences in movement rate were present before the onset of the hunting season. Elk that were harvested further increased their movement rate when the probability of encountering hunters was high (close to roads, flatter terrain, during the weekend), while elk that survived decreased movements and showed avoidance of open areas. Among 77 females (2-19 y.o.), personality traits were less evident and likely confounded by learning because females decreased their movement rate with increasing age. As with males, hunters typically harvested females with bold behavioural traits. Among less-experienced elk (2-9 y.o.), females that moved faster were harvested, while elk that moved slower and avoided open areas survived. Interestingly, movement rate decreased as age increased in those females that survived, but not in those that were eventually harvested. The latter clearly showed lower plasticity and adaptability to the local environment. All females older than 9 y.o. moved more slowly, avoided open areas and survived. Selection on behavioural traits is an important but often-ignored consequence of human exploitation of wild animals. Human hunting could evoke exploitation-induced evolutionary change, which, in turn, might oppose adaptive responses to natural and sexual selection.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 09/2012; 279(1746):4407-16. · 5.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Multi-scale resource selection modeling is used to identify factors that limit species distributions across scales of space and time. This multi-scale nature of habitat suitability complicates the translation of inferences to single, spatial depictions of habitat required for conservation of species. We estimated resource selection functions (RSFs) across three scales for a threatened ungulate, woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou), with two objectives: (1) to infer the relative effects of two forms of anthropogenic disturbance (forestry and linear features) on woodland caribou distributions at multiple scales and (2) to estimate scale-integrated resource selection functions (SRSFs) that synthesize results across scales for management-oriented habitat suitability mapping. We found a previously undocumented scale-specific switch in woodland caribou response to two forms of anthropogenic disturbance. Caribou avoided forestry cut-blocks at broad scales according to first- and second-order RSFs and avoided linear features at fine scales according to third-order RSFs, corroborating predictions developed according to predator-mediated effects of each disturbance type. Additionally, a single SRSF validated as well as each of three single-scale RSFs when estimating habitat suitability across three different spatial scales of prediction. We demonstrate that a single SRSF can be applied to predict relative habitat suitability at both local and landscape scales in support of critical habitat identification and species recovery.
    Ecological Applications 06/2012; 22(4):1068-83. · 3.82 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

637 Citations
305.14 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2003–2014
    • The University of Calgary
      • Faculty of Environmental Design
      Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • 2009–2013
    • University of Montana
      • Wildlife Biology Program
      Missoula, Montana, United States
    • University College Dublin
      • School of Biology and Environmental Science
      Dublin, L, Ireland
  • 2012
    • University of Alberta
      • Department of Biological Sciences
      Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • 2010–2011
    • University of California, Los Angeles
      • Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
      Los Angeles, CA, United States