CASUS Institute Seminar, Benjamin Garcia de Figueiredo, Ph.D. Student, Princeton University, USA

Abstract of the talk// Movement provides one of the richest interfaces between our law-based understanding of physics and the function-oriented view of biology. Navigation of the environment is the means by which various organisms realize their most basic functions — e.g. predators seek prey, reproduction requires finding a mate. Conversely, the environment constrains these processes with barriers and hazards. Modern tracking technology and experiments increasingly provide high-resolution datasets of the movement patterns of animals at various spatiotemporal scales, making clearer the functional role of environmental inhomogeneity and behavior. Still, much of our theoretical understanding of interactions remains attached to non-spatial mean-field models based on the law of mass action. In his work Benjamin tries to develop a spatially-explicit stochastic theory of interactions. Motion is cast into the language of stochastic differential equations, where interaction events are represented by various stopping times — local variables which track information about how a trajectory uses space. As an example, it is shown how these interactions take place in range-resident behavior in land mammals modeled with the Ornstein-Uhlenbeck process. Statistics of stopping times provide individual-level statistics of events ranging from predation to wildlife-vehicle collisions. Benjamin and his collaborators hope this approach can allow a more formal theoretical posing of questions ranging from evolution and optimization of movement behavior to conservation decision-making.

Benjamin will be talking live in Görlitz. However, as the event is organized in a hybrid format that includes a videoconferencing tool by Zoom Inc., people interested in the topic have the chance to also join the talk remotely. Please ask for the login details via