Comparison Of Two Methods For Measuring Daily Path Lengths In Arboreal Primates

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Susan Lappan PhD, Associate Professor (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:

Abstract: Researchers have used a variety of methods to measure patterns of animal movement, including the use of spatial data (mapping the position of a moving animal at specified intervals) and direct estimation of travel path length by pacing under a moving animal or group. I collected movement data from five groups of siamangs (Symphalangus syndactylus) using two different methods concurrently to estimate the effects of the method of data collection on estimates of daily path length (DPL). Estimates of DPL produced from spatial data collected at 15-minute intervals were 12% lower than estimates of DPL produced by pacing under the traveling animal. The actual magnitude of the difference was correlated with the travel distance, but there was no correlation between the proportional difference and the travel distance. While the collection of spatial data is generally preferable, as spatial data permit additional analyses of patterns of movements in two or three dimensions, the relatively small difference between the DPL's produced using different methods suggests that pacing is an acceptable substitute where the collection of spatial data is impractical. I also subsampled the spatial data at increasing time intervals to assess the effect of sampling interval on the calculation of daily path lengths. Longer sampling intervals produced significantly shorter estimates of travel paths than shorter sampling intervals. These results suggest that spatial data should be collected at short time intervals wherever possible, and that sampling intervals should not exceed 30 minutes. Researchers should be cautious when comparing data generated using different methods.

Additional Information

Lappan, S. (2007). Comparison of Two Methods for Measuring Daily Path Lengths in Arboreal Primates. Journal of Ecology and Environment, 30(2), 201–207. Publisher version of record available at:
Language: English
Date: 2007
Daily path length, Gibbon, Primate, Siamang

Email this document to