All organisms move during some portion of their lifecycle and movement represents a major attribute of population dynamics. Most population models ignore movement because it is difficult to measure and dynamic but strategies to manage populations which ignore the movement of organisms are unlikely to be optimal or successful. For example, following migratory animals across the annual cycle is important to understand the habitats they use, the threats they face and the factors that limit their populations. Tracking animal movement, especially small animals, is very difficult and can represent movements of thousands of kilometers across multiple international boundaries. We develop, refine and apply multiple ways of tracking animals, develop statistical methods to ensure robust data analysis, and plan these studies at times and locations to ensure we understand local to global movement patterns of animals from insects to top predators. Measuring movement and accounting for its resolution is always done with an overarching population model in mind.
The first key output of our research on the movement ecology of animals are developing statistical approaches to estimate transition among locations (or states) that integrate directly with network models of population dynamics. The second output is to account for uncertainty in measurements. Movement transitions are estimated using statistical models that are based on data from a sample of individuals so we must estimate variation in movement rates to ensure robust population modeling. Additionally, no measurement of movement occurs without analytical error (i.e. precision) which requires continual refinement of models and techniques to reduce analytical uncertainty when measuring the movement of organisms in space and time.
Techniques used include: stable isotope analysis and assignment of origin, radio-collars, mark-recapture, mark-recapture-recovery, automated telemetry-array systems, geo-locators, geographic information systems (GIS), spatial statistics
Current work and opportunities: developing and refining forensic science techniques; migratory connectivity; habitat selection and territoriality; effects of translocation
© 2022 Tyler Flockhart | Solutions for complex ecological problems