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Data from: Estimating interactions between individuals from concurrent animal movements

Cite this dataset

Schlägel, Ulrike E. et al. (2019). Data from: Estimating interactions between individuals from concurrent animal movements [Dataset]. Dryad.


1. Animal movements arise from complex interactions of individuals with their environment, including both conspecific and heterospecific individuals. Animals may be attracted to each other for mating, social foraging, or information gain, or may keep at a distance from others to avoid aggressive encounters related to, e.g., interference competition, territoriality, or predation. With modern tracking technology, more data sets are emerging that allow to investigate fine-scale interactions between free-ranging individuals from movement data, however, few methods exist to disentangle fine-scale behavioural responses of interacting individuals when these are highly individual-specific. 2. In a framework of step-selection functions, we related movements decisions of individuals to dynamic occurrence distributions of other individuals obtained through kriging of their movement paths. Using simulated data, we tested the method’s ability to identify various combinations of attraction, avoidance, and neutrality between individuals, including asymmetric (i.e. non-mutual) behaviours. Additionally, we analysed radio-telemetry data from concurrently tracked small rodents (bank vole, Myodes glareolus) to test whether our method could detect biologically plausible behaviours. 3. We found that our method was able to successfully detect and distinguish between fine-scale interactions (attraction, avoidance, neutrality), even when these were asymmetric between individuals. The method worked best when confounding factors were taken into account in the step-selection function. However, even when failing to do so (e.g. due to missing information), interactions could be reasonably identified. In bank voles, responses depended strongly on the sexes of the involved individuals and matched expectations. 4. Our approach can be combined with conventional uses of step-selection functions to tease apart the various drivers of movement, e.g. the influence of the physical and the social environment. In addition, the method is particularly useful in studying interactions when responses are highly individual-specific, i.e. vary between and towards different individuals, making our method suitable for both single-species and multi-species analyses (e.g. in the context of predation or competition).

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