Tracking drives innovation in animal movement analysis


Mevin Hooten, associate professor in the departments of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology and Statistics, was a guest editor of a special issue of the Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Statistics on animal movement modeling. Hooten’s expertise has helped highlight cutting-edge research of key scientists working at the cross sections of ecology and statistics.

The special issue explores innovations in tracking technology, which gives scientists approximate locations of animals at certain times. As technology advances, the more detailed data scientists can access, which in turn provides new insights into about animal behavior and conservation. For example, the pattern of successive locations can shed new light on animal activity – whether it is foraging, traveling, or resting.

Stats fill the gaps

When locations are related to habitats, they can provide information on habitat utilization and requirements. Such information is invaluable to wildlife managers. Though tracking data provides an incomplete picture, statistical models fill in the gaps to provide an understanding of what animals are doing when, what resources they are utilizing, and why. These statistical models also provide detailed estimates of the associated uncertainty for the unknown quantities so that responsible management decisions can be made.

Hooten, also with the U.S. Geological Survey, edited the issue alongside Professor Ruth King at the University of Edinburgh, and Professor Roland Langrock at Bielefeld University.

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