The Dynamics of
Birds and mammals exhibit considerable individual variation
in behavior. Even so, some behaviors are largely deterministic
functions of the environment. We use differential equations
and matrix models to predict animal behavior in field populations.
Distribution of Marine Birds and Mammals
Animals move from habitat
to habitat during the day as they engage in various behaviors
relating to feeding, resting, and breeding. The timing of
the transitions between behaviors and habitat patches often
depends on exogenous conditions. This is particularly true
for marine birds and mammals, whose movements typically
are influenced by environmental variables such as time of
day, tide height, current speed, heat index, and wind speed.
Our team studies the diurnal
distribution and abundance dynamics of marine birds and
mammals in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Washington. We use
differential equation models and discrete-time models to
describe and predict the movement of glaucous-winged gulls
(Larus glaucescens) between a system of habitat
patches associated with a large breeding colony. We also
model the haul-out dynamics of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina).
We are particularly interested in identifying the environmental
determinants of animal movement.