Well done to Paul Holloway, who tied for 1st place in the Spatial Analysis and Modeling (SAM) Specialty Group John Odland Student Paper Competition at the 2014 AAG conference in Tampa. Mr. Holloway’s paper was titled “Sensitivity analysis of step-selection function model parameters.” The award was judged on the paper’s contribution to mathematical models, statistical techniques and other approaches for analyzing spatial phenomena in geography, the appropriate and sound use of methodology, originality, written composition of the paper, and the quality of the oral presentation.
Step-selection function (SSF) is a methodology used to quantify the effects of landscape factors on animal movement. It is beginning to gain traction as an important conservation tool as researchers can begin to understand why animals take certain movement steps over other options. With this methodology being used in a conservation context, the research presented in Mr. Holloway’s paper investigated whether movement patterns are a function of the landscape variables or actually a result of how the user defines the inputs to the model. By exploring how the user-decisions influence the results, researchers should be more informed when making conservation decisions associated with animal movement and landscapes.