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Date of Original Version



Natural Resources Science


Habitat selection is a fundamental animal behavior that shapes a wide range of ecological processes, including animal movement, nutrient transfer, trophic dynamics and population distribution. Although habitat selection has been a focus of ecological studies for decades, technological, conceptual and methodological advances over the last 20 yr have led to a surge in studies addressing this process. Despite the substantial literature focused on quantifying the habitat-selection patterns of animals, there is a marked lack of guidance on best analytical practices. The conceptual foundations of the most commonly applied modeling frameworks can be confusing even to those well versed in their application. Furthermore, there has yet to be a synthesis of the advances made over the last 20 yr. Therefore, there is a need for both synthesis of the current state of knowledge on habitat selection, and guidance for those seeking to study this process. Here, we provide an approachable overview and synthesis of the literature on habitat-selection analyses (HSAs) conducted using selection functions, which are by far the most applied modeling framework for understanding the habitat-selection process. This review is purposefully non-technical and focused on understanding without heavy mathematical and statistical notation, which can confuse many practitioners. We offer an overview and history of HSAs, describing the tortuous conceptual path to our current understanding. Through this overview, we also aim to address the areas of greatest confusion in the literature. We synthesize the literature outlining the most exciting conceptual advances in the field of habitat-selection modeling, discussing the substantial ecological and evolutionary inference that can be made using contemporary techniques. We aim for this paper to provide clarity for those navigating the complex literature on HSAs while acting as a reference and best practices guide for practitioners.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Ecological Applications





Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.