Hierarchical, memory-based movement models for translocated elk (cervus canadensis)

Falcón-Cortés, A., Boyer, D., Merrill, E., Frair, J. L. and Morales, J. M. (2021) Hierarchical, memory-based movement models for translocated elk (cervus canadensis). Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 9, 702925. (doi: 10.3389/fevo.2021.702925)

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The use of spatial memory is well-documented in many animal species and has been shown to be critical for the emergence of spatial learning. Adaptive behaviors based on learning can emerge thanks to an interdependence between the acquisition of information over time and movement decisions. The study of how spatio-ecological knowledge is constructed throughout the life of an individual has not been carried out in a quantitative and comprehensive way, hindered by the lack of knowledge of the information an animal already has of its environment at the time monitoring begins. Identifying how animals use memory to make beneficial decisions is fundamental to developing a general theory of animal movement and space use. Here we propose several mobility models based on memory and perform hierarchical Bayesian inference on 11-month trajectories of 21 elk after they were released in a completely new environment. Almost all the observed animals exhibited preferential returns to previously visited patches, such that memory and random exploration phases occurred. Memory decay was mild or negligible over the study period. The fact that individual elk rapidly become used to a relatively small number of patches was consistent with the hypothesis that they seek places with predictable resources and reduced mortality risks such as predation.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Morales, Professor Juan
Authors: Falcón-Cortés, A., Boyer, D., Merrill, E., Frair, J. L., and Morales, J. M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Publisher:Frontiers Media
ISSN (Online):2296-701X
Published Online:04 August 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 Falcón-Cortés, Boyer, Merrill, Frair and Morales
First Published:First published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 9: 702925
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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