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Model of Animal Behavior - MOAB


Habitat fragmentation, isolation, type, shape and corridors have all been shown to be important issues in community ecology and conservation biology. It has been said that spatially explicit, individual based models of animal movement and foraging behavior may be useful in understanding how landscape patterns affect ecological processes. Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey have developed a computer program entitled Model of Animal Behavior (MOAB) that can be used to create spatially-explicit, simulation models of animal foraging.

About MOAB

MOAB was developed in an object oriented programming language. With it the user can create simulation models of medium and small sized mammal movement in regions where the interaction of terrestrial animals and landscape are important. MOAB has built-in flexibility, allowing it to be adapted for modeling terrestrial animal foraging behavior and nest depredation in different ecosystems, modeling four different species simultaneously. MOAB has a graphical user interface, the ability to import and export maps of resources and habitat. It was created to provide a general tool for community ecologists interested in modeling the influence of landscape pattern on animal movement and foraging.

How MOAB Works

Animal behavior is controlled by user definable rules of behavior. Species and individual characteristics can be modified by the user. An animal is placed on a map which shows different kinds of food and habitat. The animal makes a decision at each step of what it wants to do. The animal consults the expert system, which asks the animal questions regarding its hunger level and time of day. Based on the user supplied rules of behavior the expert system tells the animal what it should do. For example: move to a neighboring cell, stay and do nothing, eat food in current location, or hide food. As animals forage they build up a memory of where they have been and what they last saw at any particular spot.

About the Partnership Opportunity

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) seeks private industry partners to work with it through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to create a more user-friendly commercial version of the existing Model of Animal Behavior program. MOAB can be used in studies of how animals interact with each other and the importance of landscape and environment in an animal's existence.

Potential applications for this enhanced program include:

  • Education
  • Animal Behavior Studies
  • Conservation Biology
  • Mitigation Management
  • Wildlife Management
  • Regional Conservation Management

We are looking for a partner with the following capabilities:

  • Experience in marketing and publishing software to an academic audience.
  • Experience in managing software development projects.
  • Experience in programming in Smalltalk, Java, or other multiplatform object oriented programming language.

For More Information

Additional information about the Model of Animal Behavior can be obtained by contacting the principal researcher:

Jacoby Carter
U.S. Geological Survey
National Wetlands Research Center
700 Cajundome Boulevard
Lafayette, LA 70506
Tel: (337) 266-8620
FAX: (337) 266-8586
Email: Jacoby Carter

Additional information about partnership and patent licensing opportunities with the USGS can be obtained by contacting the:

Branch of Business Development
U.S. Geological Survey
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, MS 500
Reston, VA 20192
Tel: (703) 648-4652
FAX: (703) 648-4706

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