Modelling and inference for the movement of interacting animals

Milner, J. E., Blackwell, P. G. and Niu, M. (2021) Modelling and inference for the movement of interacting animals. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 12(1), pp. 54-69. (doi: 10.1111/2041-210X.13468)

[img] Text
253455.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.



1. Statistical modelling of animal movement data is a rapidly growing area of research. Typically though, these models have been developed for analysing the tracks of individual animals and we lose sight of the impact animals have on each other with regards to their movement behaviours. We aim to develop a model with a flexible social framework that allows us to capture that information. 2. Our approach is based on the concept of social hierarchies, and this is embedded in a multivariate diffusion process which models the movement of a group of animals. The possibility of switching between behavioural states facilitates dynamic social behaviours and we augment the observed data with sampled state switching times in order to model the animals' behaviour naturally in continuous time. In addition, this enables us to carry out exact inference in a Bayesian setting with the benefits of being able to handle regular, irregular and missing data. All movement and behaviour parameters are estimated with Markov chain Monte Carlo methods. 3. We examine the capability of our model with simulated data before fitting it to GPS locations of five wild olive baboons Papio anubis. The results enable us to identify which animals are influencing the movement of others and when, which provides both a dynamic and long-term static insight into the group's social behaviours. 4. Our model offers a flexible method in continuous time with which to model the network of social interactions within animal movement. Doing so avoids the limitations caused by a discrete-time approach and it allows us to capture rich information with regards to a group's social structure, leading to constructive applications in conservation and management decisions. However, currently it is a computationally expensive task to fit the model to data, which in turns limits extending the model to more fruitful but complex cases such as heterogeneity in space or individual characteristics. Furthermore, our social hierarchy approach assumes all relevant animals are tracked and that any interactions have some ordering, both of which narrow the scope within which this approach is appropriate.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Niu, Dr Mu
Authors: Milner, J. E., Blackwell, P. G., and Niu, M.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Mathematics and Statistics > Statistics
Journal Name:Methods in Ecology and Evolution
ISSN (Online):2041-210X
Published Online:10 September 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Methods in Ecology and Evolution 12(1): 54-69
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
Data DOI:10.5281/zenodo.3972134

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record