Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Geography, Environment and Planning

Major Professor

Joni Downs


animal movement, behavioral observation, Delaunay triangulation, geosimulation, individual based



Research in GIScience has identified agent-based simulation methodologies as effective in the study of complex adaptive spatial systems (CASS). CASS are characterized by the emergent nature of their spatial expressions and by the changing relationships between their constituent variables and how those variables act on the system's spatial expression over time. Here, emergence refers to a CASS property where small-scale, individual action results in macroscopic or system-level patterns over time. This research develops and executes a spatially-explicit agent based model of Muscovy Duck home range behavior. Muscovy duck home range behavior is regarded as a complex adaptive spatial system for this research, where this process can be explained and studied with simulation techniques.

The general animal movement model framework presented in this research explicitly considers spatial characteristics of the landscape in its formulation, as well as provides for spatial cognition in the behavior of its agents. Specification of the model followed a three-phase framework, including: behavioral data collection in the field, construction of a model substrate depicting land cover features found in the study area, and the informing of model agents with products derived from field observations.

This framework was applied in the construction of a spatially-explicit agent-based model (SE-ABM) of Muscovy Duck home range behavior. The model was run 30 times to simulate point location distributions of an individual duck's daily activity. These simulated datasets were collected, and home ranges were constructed using Characteristic Hull Polygon (CHP) and Minimum Convex Polygon (MCP) techniques. Descriptive statistics of the CHP and MCP polygons were calculated to characterize the home ranges produced and establish internal model validity. As a theoretical framework for the construction of animal movement SE-ABM's, and as a demonstration of the potential of geosimulation methodologies in support of animal home range estimator validation, the model represents an original contribution to the literature. Implications of model utility as a validation tool for home range extents as derived from GPS or radio telemetry positioning data are discussed.