Simulating animal movement as embedded in changing environmental scenes: drought as an underlying processes of white-lipped peccaries movements in the Yucatan, Mexico

Authors: Jugal Patel*, McGill University, Rafael Reyna, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Raja Sengupta, McGill University
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Quantitative Methods, Coupled Human and Natural Systems
Keywords: complex systems, geographic information systems (GIS), agent-based modelling, movement ecology
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 2
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The spatially explicit environmental scenes animal movements are embedded in are on-going phenomena: inherently dynamic, self-sustaining, and undergoing change. Representation of the environment in studies focused on animal-environment interaction and their emergent movement across geographic space often limit interpretation of relevant multi-scalar processes by rendering the scene as unchanging. Innovative remote-sensing products, as well as traditional spectral indices of the environment, can be integrated into an agent-based model to provide interpretations of animal movement that appropriately consider it, as well as the scene, as continuous processes. We use trajectories of four groups of white-lipped peccaries over 18 months; and changing vegetation characteristics and pond water-levels in the Yucatan, Mexico to render a changing landscape as well as movement processes. We use vegetation indices (NDVI, mNDVI); dynamic habitats indices (DHI); and water-levels at known watering holes to depict a changing environmental scene. We then provide programmatic logic to update surfaces with this information of the scene to integrate a dynamic scene into an agent-based model to simulate changing movement patterns emerging from interactions with(in) a dynamic environment. Images of waterbodies also provide spatially-grounded information on water-availability – a key driver of peccary movement during dry season (white-lipped peccaries travel between known aguadas (small water ponds of the Yucatan). Here we showcase a method that integrates remote-sensing products with representations of animal movement to provide simulations of movement that are dependent on changing environmental processes.

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