Modeling territory attendance and preening behavior in a seabird colony as functions of environmental conditions

Shandelle M. Henson, Joseph G. Galusha, James L. Hayward, J. M. Cushing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


In previous studies we developed a general compartmental methodology for modeling animal behavior and applied the methodology to marine birds and mammals. In this study we used the methodology to construct a system of two differential equations to model the dynamics of territory attendance and preening in a gull colony on Protection Island, Strait of Juan de Fuca, Washington. We found that colony occupancy was driven primarily by abiotic environmental conditions, including tide height, time of day, solar elevation, and wind speed over open water. For birds in the colony, preening behavior was driven to some extent by abiotic environmental conditions (including time of day, solar elevation, humidity, and wind speed on the colony), but apparently was driven primarily by local and/or biotic effects not included in the model. In terms of R 2 values, the model explained 65% and 37% of the variability in colony occupancy and preening data, respectively, as a function of these six abiotic environmental factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-107
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of biological dynamics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

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