Analysis of movement recursions to detect reproductive events and estimate their fate in central place foragers

Movement Ecology
By: , and 



Recursive movement patterns have been used to detect behavioral structure within individual movement trajectories in the context of foraging ecology, home-ranging behavior, and predator avoidance. Some animals exhibit movement recursions to locations that are tied to reproductive functions, including nests and dens; while existing literature recognizes that, no method is currently available to explicitly target different types of revisited locations. Moreover, the temporal persistence of recursive movements to a breeding location can carry information regarding the fate of breeding attempts, but it has never been used as a metric to quantify recursive movement patterns. Here, we introduce a method to locate breeding attempts and estimate their fate from GPStracking data of central place foragers. We tested the performance of our method in three bird species differing in breeding ecology (wood stork (Mycteria americana), lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni), Mediterranean gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)) and implemented it in the R package ‘nestR’. Methods: We identified breeding sites based on the analysis of recursive movements within individual tracks. Using trajectories with known breeding attempts, we estimated a set of species-specific criteria for the identification of nest sites, which we further validated using non-reproductive individuals as controls. We then estimated individual nest survival as a binary measure of reproductive fate (success, corresponding to fledging of at least one chick, or failure) from nest-site revisitation histories during breeding attempts, using a Bayesian hierarchical modeling approach that accounted for temporally variable revisitation patterns, probability of visit detection, and missing data. Results: Across the three species, positive predictive value of the nest-site detection algorithm varied between 87 and 100% and sensitivity between 88 and 92%, and we correctly estimated the fate of 86–100% breeding attempts.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Analysis of movement recursions to detect reproductive events and estimate their fate in central place foragers
Series title Movement Ecology
DOI 10.1186/s40462-020-00201-1
Volume 8
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
Description 24, 14 p.
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