Understanding the spatiotemporal pattern of grazing cattle movement

Kun Zhao*, Raja Jurdak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding the drivers of animal movement is significant for ecology and biology. Yet researchers have so far been unable to fully understand these drivers, largely due to low data resolution. In this study, we analyse a high-frequency movement dataset for a group of grazing cattle and investigate their spatiotemporal patterns using a simple two-state € stop-and-move' mobility model. We find that the dispersal kernel in the moving state is best described by a mixture exponential distribution, indicating the hierarchical nature of the movement. On the other hand, the waiting time appears to be scale-invariant below a certain cut-off and is best described by a truncated power-law distribution, suggesting that the non-moving state is governed by time-varying dynamics. We explore possible explanations for the observed phenomena, covering factors that can play a role in the generation of mobility patterns, such as the context of grazing environment, the intrinsic decision-making mechanism or the energy status of different activities. In particular, we propose a new hypothesis that the underlying movement pattern can be attributed to the most probable observable energy status under the maximum entropy configuration. These results are not only valuable for modelling cattle movement but also provide new insights for understanding the underlying biological basis of grazing behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Article number31967
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


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