, Volume 64, Issue 4, pp 647-656

Linking animal movement to site fidelity

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Abstract

Site fidelity, the recurrent visit of an animal to a previously occupied area is a wide-spread behavior in the animal kingdom. The relevance of site fidelity to territoriality, successful breeding, social associations, optimal foraging and other ecological processes, demands accurate quantification. Here we generalize previous theory that connects site fidelity patterns to random walk parameters within the framework of the space-time fractional diffusion equation. In particular, we describe the site fidelity function in terms of animal movement characteristics via the Lévy exponent, which controls the step-length distribution of the random steps at each turning point, and the waiting time exponent that controls for how long an animal awaits before actually moving. The analytical results obtained will provide a rigorous benchmark for empirically driven studies of animal site fidelity.