Challenges and New Directions for Measuring Dynamic Interactions between Pairs of Moving Objects
University of Texas at Austin, United States
The nature of interactions between individuals of an animal population is a fundamental aspect of a species' behavioral ecology and information on the frequency and duration of these interactions is vital to understanding mating and territorial behavior, resource use, and infectious epizootiology. However, the ambiguity of what constitutes an interaction and how to effectively measure it is only recently being addressed in fields like GIScience and Movement Ecology. This new attention is due in part to technological advancements in GPS and other tracking technologies that have resulted in a proliferation of high quality (fine spatial and temporal resolution) data on moving objects, while the methods used to analyze movement patterns and interactions have not advanced concomitantly.
There have been two main ways to quantify interactions in wildlife studies: 'static interactions', which involve some quantification of home range overlap (and are therefore just spatial), and 'dynamic interactions' which are defined as occurring within a spatial and temporal threshold. Dynamic interactions can provide information on possible attraction and avoidance of individuals that are in the same area at the same time and are far more useful for understanding how two individuals interact in the context of disease transmission and behavioral ecology, but they are more problematic to measure.
The research presented here highlights challenges associated with measuring dynamic interactions, ranging from conceptual to methodological. I present results that suggest promising new directions for measuring and interpreting dynamic interactions using a case study of brown hyenas in Northern Botswana.