Understanding animal habitat preferences and movement patterns is key to effective conservation. We develop new types of spatial and movement models (see also Spatial models for understanding the distribution of animals and plants).
Spline based analyses can accommodate both far reaching trends in spatial patterns and more localised patterns (e.g. in and around water sources) whilst considering surface features such as 'no-go' areas - this requires the distances which underpin these surfaces to respect the fact that the animals must move around objects rather than cross them. Dr. Lindesay Scott-Hayward and Dr. Monique Mackenzie work on developing methods such as these (Complex Region Spatial Smoother; CReSS) and with colleagues (Dr. Walker in Auckland, NZ) developing automated model selection methods.
Example: estimated change in animal density from January (month 1) to December (month 12). The red lines show 95% confidence intervals for this estimated relationship. The relationship was found using B-splines.
Scott-Hayward, LAS, Mackenzie, ML, Ashe, E and R. Williams. 2015. Modelling Killer Whale feeding behaviour using a spatially adaptive Complex Region Spatial Smoother (CReSS) and Generalised Estimating Equations (GEEs). Journal of Agricultural, Biological & Environmental Statistics, 20:305-322