Evol Ecol Res 13: 571-588 (2011)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Simulation of spatial movement that potentially maximizes assessment, presence, and defence in territorial and home-ranging animals, with special reference to territorial sex-changing fishes

Thomas R. Brown1, Joshua Jowers1 and Marvin M.F. Lutnesky2,3

1Department of Mathematical Sciences, Eastern New Mexico University, Portales, New Mexico, USA and  2Department of Biology and  3Natural History Museum, Eastern New Mexico University, Portales, New Mexico, USA

Correspondence: M. Lutnesky, Department of Biology, Eastern New Mexico University, Portales, NM 88130, USA.
e-mail: marv.lutnesky@enmu.edu


Question: Are there territory sizes, shapes, and movement rules that animals can use to maximize their presence for territorial and reproductive purposes?

Features of the model: Individual-oriented simulation model of a focal male, a female (his mate), and six other males in adjacent territories. Simulation variables were territory size and aspect (length-to-width ratio), velocity, step size, and potential movement angle. Each simulation represented 10,000 s of real time, and simulations were repeated until convergence on maximum mean encounter rates (MER) of a focal male with the female and other males was reached.

Ranges of variables: Simulations consisted of three velocities (0.05, 0.1, and 0.2 m · s−1), three step sizes (time between movement decisions of 0.5, 1, and 2 s), 18 movement angles (20°, 40°, 60°, . . . 360°), four territory sizes (1, 10, 100, 400 m2), and four territory aspects (1, 2, 4, 8).

Conclusions: Random movement maximizes MER with a female only in small territories (e.g. 1 m2), but use of a simple correlated random walk strategy (‘trajectory-swimming’ in fishes) maximizes MER with both females and males for other territories, regardless of aspect. This form of movement also minimizes variability of MER; specifically, it gives a more reliable signal, or ‘truth in advertising’ of territoriality.

Keywords: computer model, fish, movement, swimming, territoriality.

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