Detecting seasonal episodic-like spatiotemporal memory patterns using animal movement modelling

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  • Spatial memory plays a role in the way animals perceive their environments, resulting in memory-informed movement patterns that are observable to ecologists. Developing mathematical techniques to understand how animals use memory in their environments allows for an increased understanding of animal cognition.
    Here we describe a model that accounts for the memory of seasonal or ephemeral qualities of an animal's environment. The model captures multiple behaviours at once by allowing for resource selection in the present time as well as long-distance navigations to previously visited locations within an animal's home range.
    We performed a set of analyses on simulated data to test our model, determining that it can provide informative results from as little as 1 year of discrete-time location data. We also show that the accuracy of model selection and parameter estimation increases with more location data.
    This model has potential to identify a specific mechanism in which animals use memory to optimize their foraging, by revisiting temporally and predictably variable resources at consistent time-lags.

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    Article (Draft / Submitted)
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International