On “Emergent Group Level Navigation: An Agent-Based Evaluation of Movement Patterns in a Folivorous Primate” (Bonnell et al. 2013)

The authors modeled the decision-making process in foraging of red colobus monkeys in Kibale National Park, Uganda, and then tested it against their observed data to test the effect of spatial memory type (Euclidean or landmark-based), memory retention (low, medium, or high), and social group type (democratic/independent or leader) on the patterns of movement of the primate groups, and see which model fit the colobus monkeys best. Several environmental, group behavioral, and primate capabilities variables were taken into account. The authors seemed to have thought about everything. A fascinating part of the model was that the authors simulated that grouping in primates increased safety in individuals by mitigating predation, but also increased food competition. The monkeys in the model even had a knowledge of “grow back rate”: the rate at which vegetation in their feeding sites grow back after they have left them.

Although predation was included indirectly (by modeling that grouping in primates increased safety by mitigating predation), I wonder why predation was not included directly in the model. It seems that predation is a crucial factor to consider in modeling the displacement of monkeys and testing the effect of  spatial memory type, memory retention, and social group type. Maybe the colobus monkeys remembered that there was predation in a feeding area, and this could have affected the patterns of movement, type, or size of the group. Another factor that could have been modeled, although brought up towards the end of the article, is group demographics. It was found that the leader-led group with a landmark-based memory and low memory retention best fit the observed red colobus monkey data. However, a group that is composed of an older population might function with a democratic (independent) social group type, while a group composed of an younger population might function with a leader-led social group type. In view of that, it would be an interesting experiment to include demographics in the model.


– Solfar


One Response to “On “Emergent Group Level Navigation: An Agent-Based Evaluation of Movement Patterns in a Folivorous Primate” (Bonnell et al. 2013)”

  1. site admin says:

    Thanks for the first post! Predation and demographics are domain-based additions. That is, the GIS can be expanded with greater knowledge of specific knowledge domains of, for example, wildlife biology and anthropolgy. You are providing a critique of the GIS tool use. Considering that this is a GIScience course, how could the GIScience be expanded?