Scientists commonly use resource selection functions (RSFs) to identify areas important to large herbivores. Defining availability of resources is scale dependent and may limit inference on biological mechanisms of selection, particularly if variation in selection of resources is high among individuals within a population. We used logistic regression, the information-theoretic approach, and Global Positioning System (GPS) radiotelemetry data from 10 female woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) and 5 wolf (Canis lupus) packs to model resource selection by individual caribou in the winter and late-winter seasons. We evaluated the influence of spatial scale on the relative importance of cost of movement and components of predation risk. We examined attributes of the risk of wolf predation within availability data at 2 spatial scales, and quantified variation in resource selection among individual caribou. Energetic cost of movement was the most important covariate for all caribou at a spatial scale defined by seasonal movement. Increasing distance to areas of high wolf risk was more important at the larger spatial scale of home range. Variation was high in the selection of resources among caribou, although commonalities among individuals enabled pooling data on use and availability into 2 selection strategies. Researchers and managers should conduct multiscale analyses with varied definitions of availability, quantify variation among individuals, and pool data into common selection strategies to identify mechanisms of selection and to map a population's selection for resources on the landscape.
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Vol. 70 • No. 6