Integrated animal movement and spatial capture–recapture models: Simulation, implementation, and inference
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Integrated animal movement and spatial capture–recapture models: Simulation, implementation, and inference

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    Over the last decade, spatial capture–recapture (SCR) models have become widespread for estimating demographic parameters in ecological studies. However, the underlying assumptions about animal movement and space use are often not realistic. This is a missed opportunity because interesting ecological questions related to animal space use, habitat selection, and behavior cannot be addressed with most SCR models, despite the fact that the data collected in SCR studies — individual animals observed at specific locations and times — can provide a rich source of information about these processes and how they relate to demographic rates. We developed SCR models that integrated more complex movement processes that are typically inferred from telemetry data, including a simple random walk, correlated random walk (i.e., short-term directional persistence), and habitat-driven Langevin diffusion. We demonstrated how to formulate, simulate from, and fit these models with standard SCR data using data-augmented Bayesian analysis methods. We evaluated their performance through a simulation study, in which we varied the detection, movement, and resource selection parameters. We also examined different numbers of sampling occasions and assessed performance gains when including auxiliary location data collected from telemetered individuals. Across all scenarios, the integrated SCR movement models performed well in terms of abundance, detection, and movement parameter estimation. We found little difference in bias for the simple random walk model when reducing the number of sampling occasions from T = 25 to T = 15. We found some bias in movement parameter estimates under several of the correlated random walk scenarios, but incorporating auxiliary location data improved parameter estimates and significantly improved mixing during model fitting. The Langevin movement model was able to recover resource selection parameters from standard SCR data, which is particularly appealing because it explicitly links the individual-level movement process with habitat selection and population density. We focused on closed population models, but the movement models developed here can be extended to open SCR models. The movement process models could also be easily extended to accommodate additional “building blocks” of random walks, such as central tendency (e.g., territoriality) or multiple movement behavior states, thereby providing a flexible and coherent framework for linking animal movement behavior to population dynamics, density, and distribution.
  • Source:
    Ecology 103( 10): e3771
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