New study examines animal behaviour

18 February 2008

Prof Iain MacDonald of the Department of Actuarial Science was one of three contributors to a ground-breaking study on animal behaviour.

Associate Professor Iain MacDonald of UCT's Department of Actuarial Science was one of the contributors to a new study on animal behaviour that meaningfully represents the motivational state of animals by observing their eating routine. Completed over several years, it's a study that has taken the collaboration of three researchers on three continents. Titled Modelling Time Series of Animal Behaviour by Means of a Latent-State Model with Feedback, the paper examines the eating behaviour of eight Scarce Bordered Straw (Helicoverpa armigera) caterpillars over a 19-hour period. The purpose was to model the states underlying behaviour, such as hunger and satiety, in a way that can be dissociated from specific behaviours. MacDonald wrote the paper with Professor Walter Zucchini of the University of Göttingen and Professor David Raubenheimer of the University of Auckland. The paper was published in the leading international journal Biometrics.

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