Analyses of animal resource selection functions (RSF) using data collected from relocations of individuals via remote telemetry devices have become commonplace. Increasing technological advances, however, have produced statistical challenges in analysing such highly autocorrelated data. Weighted distribution methods have been proposed for analysing RSFs with telemetry data. However, they can be computationally challenging due to an intractable normalizing constant and cannot be aggregated (i.e. collapsed) over time to make space-only inference.
In this study, we take a conceptually different approach to modelling animal telemetry data for making RSF inference. We consider the telemetry data to be a realization of a space–time point process. Under the point process paradigm, the times of the relocations are also considered to be random rather than fixed.
We show the point process models we propose are a generalization of the weighted distribution telemetry models. By generalizing the weighted model, we can access several numerical techniques for evaluating point process likelihoods that make use of common statistical software. Thus, the analysis methods can be readily implemented by animal ecologists.
In addition to ease of computation, the point process models can be aggregated over time by marginalizing over the temporal component of the model. This allows a full range of models to be constructed for RSF analysis at the individual movement level up to the study area level.
To demonstrate the analysis of telemetry data with the point process approach, we analysed a data set of telemetry locations from northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) in the Pribilof Islands, Alaska. Both a space–time and an aggregated space-only model were fitted. At the individual level, the space–time analysis showed little selection relative to the habitat covariates. However, at the study area level, the space-only model showed strong selection relative to the covariates.
Additional publication details
Estimating animal resource selection from telemetry data using point process models