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A broader interpretation of energy landscapes
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  • Jacob Brownscombe,
  • Graham Raby,
  • Karen Murchie,
  • Andy Danylchuk,
  • Steven Cooke
Jacob Brownscombe
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
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Graham Raby
Trent University
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Karen Murchie
John G Shedd Aquarium
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Andy Danylchuk
University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Steven Cooke
Carleton University
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The energy landscapes paradigm describes how spatial variation in energetic costs of transport (locomotion) influences animal movement. We suggest a more holistic view of the energetic costs and gains that vary across landscapes. Firstly, the spatial distribution of potential energetic gain is a major factor in animal spatial ecology. In addition to food availability, metabolic performance determines the capacity of animals to capture and digest food, which can vary dramatically across space and time. Independent of movement, energetic costs and gains vary spatially with environmental factors like temperature. We therefore consider energy landscapes more broadly as the variation in animal energetic costs and gains over space and time. This is discussed conceptually, where we posit testable hypotheses on how factors like prey, predators, and temperature interact to affect animal energetics. We illustrate these ideas with empirical data on a marine fish in multiple landscapes showing variable patterns in energetic costs and potential gain due to their spatial ecology. The broader definition of ‘energy landscapes’ we propose provides a comprehensive framework for understanding animal spatial ecology, as well as the effects of changing environmental conditions on animal fitness, life history, and population dynamics in the spatial domain.