Aarhus University Seal

An application of upscaled optimal foraging theory using hidden Markov modelling: year-round behavioural variation in a large arctic herbivore

New publication by Larissa T. Beumer, Jennifer Pohle, Niels M. Schmidt, Marianna Chimienti, Jean-Pierre Desforges, Lars H. Hansen, Roland Langrock, Stine Højlund Pedersen, Mikkel Stelvig & Floris M. van Beest


In highly seasonal environments, animals face critical decisions regarding time allocation, diet optimisation, and habitat use. In the Arctic, the short summers are crucial for replenishing body reserves, while low food availability and increased energetic demands characterise the long winters (9–10 months). Under such extreme seasonal variability, even small deviations from optimal time allocation can markedly impact individuals’ condition, reproductive success and survival. We investigated which environmental conditions influenced daily, seasonal, and interannual variation in time allocation in high-arctic muskoxen (Ovibos moschatus) and evaluated whether results support qualitative predictions derived from upscaled optimal foraging theory.