Circular–linear copulae for animal movement data

Florian H. Hodel, John R. Fieberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Animal movement is often modelled in discrete time, formulated in terms of steps taken between successive locations at regular time intervals. Steps are characterized by the distance between successive locations (step lengths) and changes in direction (turn angles). Animals commonly exhibit a mix of directed movements with large step lengths and turn angles near 0 when travelling between habitat patches and more wandering movements with small step lengths and uniform turn angles when foraging. Thus, step lengths and turn angles will typically be cross-correlated. Most models of animal movement assume that step lengths and turn angles are independent, likely due to a lack of available alternatives. Here, we show how the method of copulae can be used to fit multivariate distributions that allow for correlated step lengths and turn angles. We describe several newly developed copulae appropriate for modelling animal movement data and fit these distributions to data collected on fishers (Pekania pennanti). The copulae are able to capture the inherent correlation in the data and provide a better fit than a model that assumes independence. Further, we demonstrate via simulation that this correlation can impact movement patterns (e.g. rates of dispersion overtime). We see many opportunities to extend this framework (e.g. to consider autocorrelation in step attributes) and to integrate it into existing frameworks for modelling animal movement and habitat selection. For example, copulae could be used to more accurately sample available locations when conducting habitat-selection analyses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1001-1013
Number of pages13
JournalMethods in Ecology and Evolution
Volume13
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Dr. Gabriele Cozzi and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable input that led to a much‐improved paper. J.R.F. was supported by National Aeronautics and Space Administration award 80NSSC21K1182 and received partial salary support from the Minnesota Agricultural Experimental Station and from the Minnesota Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative‐Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).

Funding Information:
The authors thank Dr. Gabriele Cozzi and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable input that led to a much-improved paper. J.R.F. was supported by National Aeronautics and Space Administration award 80NSSC21K1182 and received partial salary support from the Minnesota Agricultural Experimental Station and from the Minnesota Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). Open Access Funding provided by Universitat Zurich.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Methods in Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Ecological Society.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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