Movement-Based estimation and visualization of space use in 3D for wildlife ecology and conservation

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Abstract

Advances in digital biotelemetry technologies are enabling the collection of bigger and more accurate data on the movements of free-ranging wildlife in space and time. Although many biotelemetry devices record 3D location data with x, y, and z coordinates from tracked animals, the third z coordinate is typically not integrated into studies of animal spatial use. Disregarding the vertical component may seriously limit understanding of animal habitat use and niche separation. We present novel movement-based kernel density estimators and computer visualization tools for generating and exploring 3D home ranges based on location data. We use case studies of three wildlife species - giant panda, dugong, and California condor - to demonstrate the ecological insights and conservation management benefits provided by 3D home range estimation and visualization for terrestrial, aquatic, and avian wildlife research.

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Tracey, J. A., Sheppard, J., Zhu, J., Wei, F., Swaisgood, R. R., & Fisher, R. N. (2014). Movement-Based estimation and visualization of space use in 3D for wildlife ecology and conservation. PLoS ONE, 9(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0101205

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