Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN) for the simulation of central-place foraging trajectories [article]

Amédée Roy, Sophie Lanco Bertrand, Ronan Fablet
2021 bioRxiv   pre-print
1. Miniature electronic device such as GPS have enabled ecologists to document relatively large amount of animal trajectories. Modeling such trajectories may attempt (1) to explain mechanisms underlying observed behaviors and (2) to elucidate ecological processes at the population scale by simulating multiple trajectories. Existing approaches to animal movement modeling mainly addressed the first objective and they are yet soon limited when used for simulation. Individual-based models based on
more » ... d-hoc formulation and empirical parametrization lack of generability, while state-space models and stochastic differential equations models, based on rigorous statistical inference, consist in 1st order Markovian models calibrated at the local scale which can lead to overly simplistic description of trajectories. 2. We introduce a 'state-of-the-art' tool from artificial intelligence - Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN) - for the simulation of animal trajectories. GAN consist in a pair of deep neural networks that aim at capturing the data distribution of some experimental dataset, and that enable the generation of new instances of data that share statistical similarity. In this study, we aim on one hand to identify relevant deep networks architecture for simulating central-place foraging trajectories and on the second hand to evaluate GAN benefits over classical methods such as state-switching Hidden Markov Models (HMM). 3. We demonstrate the outstanding ability of GAN to simulate 'realistic' seabirds foraging trajectories. In particular, we show that deep convolutional networks are more efficient than LSTM networks and that GAN-derived synthetic trajectories reproduce better the Fourier spectral density of observed trajectories than those simulated using HMM. Therefore, unlike HMM, GAN capture the variability of large-scale descriptive statistics such as foraging trips distance, duration and tortuosity. 4. GAN offer a relevant alternative to existing approaches to modeling animal movement since it is calibrated to reproduce multiple scales at the same time, thus freeing ecologists from the assumption of first-order markovianity. GAN also provide an ultra-flexible and robust framework that could further take environmental conditions, social interactions or even bio-energetics model into account and tackle a wide range of key challenges in movement ecology.
doi:10.1101/2021.09.27.461940 fatcat:3qv6tfcaczccjcbri4nasmytz4