Modeling Collective Animal Movement Through Interactions in Behavioral States

James C. Russell, Ephraim M. Hanks, Andreas P. Modlmeier, David P. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Animal movement often exhibits changing behavior because animals often alternate between exploring, resting, feeding, or other potential states. Changes in these behavioral states are often driven by environmental conditions or the behavior of nearby individuals. We propose a model for dependence among individuals’ behavioral states. We couple this state switching with complex discrete-time animal movement models to analyze a large variety of animal movement types. To demonstrate this method of capturing dependence, we study the movements of ants in a nest. The behavioral interaction structure is combined with a spatially varying stochastic differential equation model to allow for spatially and temporally heterogeneous collective movement of all ants within the nest. Our results reveal behavioral tendencies that are related to nearby individuals, particularly the queen, and to different locations in the nest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-334
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Statistics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty
  • Applied Mathematics


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