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animal behavior, animal interaction, animal telemetry, apex predators, functional data analysis, information theory, jaguar, mutual information, smoothing splines


The collection of animal position data via GPS tracking devices has increased in quality and usage in recent years. Animal position and movement, although measured discretely, follows the same principles of kinematic motion, and as such, the process is inherently continuous and differentiable. I demonstrate the functionality and visual elegance of smoothing spline models. I discuss the challenges and benefits of implementing such an approach, and I provide an analysis of movement and social interaction of seven jaguars inhabiting the Taiamã Ecological Station, Pantanal, Brazil, a region with the highest known density of jaguars. In the analysis, I derive measures for pairwise distance, cooccurrence, and spatiotemporal association between jaguars, borrowing ideas from density estimation and information theory. These measures are feasible as a result of spline model estimation, and they provide a critical tool for a deeper investigation of cooccurrence duration, frequency, and localized spatio-temporal relationships between animals. In this work, I characterize a variety of interactive relationships between pairs of jaguars, and I particularly emphasize the relationships in movement of two male–female and two male–male jaguar pairs exhibiting highly associative relationships.