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Anomalous Diffusion and Random Encounters in Living Systems

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SDBW04 - Spatially distributed stochastic dynamical systems in biology

Due to the rapid growth of animal movement data obtained by GPS , radio tracking collars and other means, there is a growing recognition that classical models of encounter rates among animal populations should be revisited. Recent theoretical investigations have demonstrated that biologically relevant modifications to classical assumptions about individual behavior can bring about non-trivial changes in the formulation of population-scale dynamical systems. In particular, the combination of tracking data with habitat information has revealed the substantial impact that environmental factors have on animal movement and sociality. In this talk, I will review some of the existing conventional wisdom that supports the use of so-called “Levy flight” models that seek to describe animal movement in the absence of environmental cues. However, through a few examples, I will make the case that animal movement patterns should not be separated from the spatial environmental features that shape them. In fact, animal sensing and decision-making are “leading-order” effects, and their study gives rise to new ecological observations and novel mathematical challenges.

This talk is part of the Isaac Newton Institute Seminar Series series.

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