Decoding Golden Eagle Movement Behavior from High-Resolution, Variable-Rate Telemetry Data Through Bayesian Filtering

Rimple Sandhu, Charles Tripp, Eliot Quon, Regis Thedin, David Brandes, Melissa Braham, Tricia Miller, Adam Duerr, Chris Farmer

Research output: NRELPoster


The recent advances in animal tracking technology have enabled the collection of a vast amount of in situ data regarding the movement of wildlife at high spatiotemporal resolution. These data are usually available at variable time resolutions and contains noise (error) originating from GPS fixes. Decoding movement characteristics, particularly of flying animals, from telemetry data while handling these factors is a challenging yet important task for conservation purposes. Typically, this task is broken into two subtasks: resampling, and model calibration. The resampling subtask converts the variable rate positional data into a constant time interval data, while the model calibration subtask uses the resampled data to tune time-invariant parameters of the proposed models. For telemetry data at high temporal resolutions (order of 1 second), it is very challenging to decouple noise from actual movements using interpolation-based resampling techniques. Any errors introduced during resampling can significantly alter the the calibration and prediction attributes of the movement model. We address this problem through a unified Bayesian state-space framework that can handle both the resampling and calibration tasks in a single step. In addition, we use the speed and heading of the bird from telemetry data to regularize the position information of the bird. We use a Kalman filtering approach to include these nonlinearly related motion parameters within the state space framework. We cross-validated to quantify how this inclusion affects the model performance in estimating true bird movements. The relationship between the true state of the bird and environmental and topographical covariates is then represented parametrically. These parameters are then tuned using stochastic sampling strategies like Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC). We use the telemetry data collected from golden eagles in the western USA to demonstrate the applicability of this approach to build a predictive, probabilistic movement model. Our preliminary results show that this approach provides improved predictive performance in terms of capturing higher-order motion parameters such as angular and horizontal accelerations, which may have simpler and more direct relationships with environmental covariates than corresponding speeds. In this talk, we will demonstrate how this state-space approach benefits the prediction capabilities of a movement model in simulating golden eagle paths through a wind power plant in Wyoming given certain atmospheric conditions. The model outcomes are aimed at informing mitigation strategies that can minimize the potential for collisions of golden eagles with wind turbines.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NamePresented at the 14th Wind Wildlife Research Meeting, 15-17 November 2022, Kansas City, Missouri

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PO-2C00-84610


  • Bayesian methods
  • behavior modeling
  • golden eagle


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