The Annals of Applied Statistics

A spatially varying stochastic differential equation model for animal movement

James C. Russell, Ephraim M. Hanks, Murali Haran, and David Hughes

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Animal movement exhibits complex behavior which can be influenced by unobserved environmental conditions. We propose a model which allows for a spatially varying movement rate and spatially varying drift through a semiparametric potential surface and a separate motility surface. These surfaces are embedded in a stochastic differential equation framework which allows for complex animal movement patterns in space. The resulting model is used to analyze the spatially varying behavior of ants to provide insight into the spatial structure of ant movement in the nest.

Article information

Ann. Appl. Stat., Volume 12, Number 2 (2018), 1312-1331.

Received: May 2016
Revised: September 2017
First available in Project Euclid: 28 July 2018

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Animal movement stochastic differential equations potential surface Camponotus pennsylvanicus


Russell, James C.; Hanks, Ephraim M.; Haran, Murali; Hughes, David. A spatially varying stochastic differential equation model for animal movement. Ann. Appl. Stat. 12 (2018), no. 2, 1312--1331. doi:10.1214/17-AOAS1113.

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Supplemental materials

  • Supplement to “A spatially varying stochastic differential equation model for animal movement”. We provide additional information including prior distribution specification, full conditional distributions, analysis of the discretization error, an application to simulated data and an application to the spread of pathogens.