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- Data packageData from: Resource-driven encounters among consumers and implications for the spread of infectious disease(2017-10-11) Bellan, Steven E.; Getz, Wayne M.Animals share a variety of common resources, which can be a major driver of conspecific encounter rates. In this work, we implement a spatially explicit mathematical model for resource visitation behaviour in order to examine how changes in resource availability can influence the rate of encounters among consumers. Using simulations and asymptotic analysis, we demonstrate that, under a reasonable set of assumptions, the relationship between resource availability and consumer conspecific encounters is not monotonic. We characterize how the maximum encounter rate and associated critical resource density depend on system parameters like consumer density and the maximum distance from which consumers can detect and respond to resources. The assumptions underlying our theoretical model and analysis are motivated by observations of large aggregations of black-backed jackals at carcasses generated by seasonal outbreaks of anthrax among herbivores in Etosha National Park, Namibia. As non-obligate scavengers, black-backed jackals use carcasses as a supplemental food resource when they are available. While jackals do not appear to acquire disease from ingesting anthrax carcasses, changes in their movement patterns in response to changes in carcass abundance do alter jackals' conspecific encounter rate in ways that may affect the transmission dynamics of other diseases, such as rabies. Our theoretical results provide a method to quantify and analyse the hypothesis that the outbreak of a fatal disease among herbivores can potentially facilitate outbreaks of an entirely different disease among jackals. By analysing carcass visitation data, we find support for our model's prediction that the number of conspecific encounters at resource sites decreases with additional increases in resource availability. Whether or not this site-dependent effect translates to an overall decrease in encounters depends, unexpectedly, on the relationship between the maximum distance of detection and the resource density.
- Data packageData from: Suite of simple metrics reveals common movement syndromes across vertebrate taxa(2017-06-01) Abrahms, BrianaBackground: Because empirical studies of animal movement are most-often site- and species-specific, we lack understanding of the level of consistency in movement patterns across diverse taxa, as well as a framework for quantitatively classifying movement patterns. We aim to address this gap by determining the extent to which statistical signatures of animal movement patterns recur across ecological systems. We assessed a suite of movement metrics derived from GPS trajectories of thirteen marine and terrestrial vertebrate species spanning three taxonomic classes, orders of magnitude in body size, and modes of movement (swimming, flying, walking). Using these metrics, we performed a principal components analysis and cluster analysis to determine if individuals organized into statistically distinct clusters. Finally, to identify and interpret commonalities within clusters, we compared them to computer-simulated idealized movement syndromes representing suites of correlated movement traits observed across taxa (migration, nomadism, territoriality, and central place foraging). Results: Two principal components explained 70% of the variance among the movement metrics we evaluated across the thirteen species, and were used for the cluster analysis. The resulting analysis revealed four statistically distinct clusters. All simulated individuals of each idealized movement syndrome organized into separate clusters, suggesting that the four clusters are explained by common movement syndrome. Conclusions: Our results offer early indication of widespread recurrent patterns in movement ecology that have consistent statistical signatures, regardless of taxon, body size, mode of movement, or environment. We further show that a simple set of metrics can be used to classify broad-scale movement patterns in disparate vertebrate taxa. Our comparative approach provides a general framework for quantifying and classifying animal movements, and facilitates new inquiries into relationships between movement syndromes and other ecological processes.