Many statistical procedures and metrics have been developed to analyze animal home-range data. We evaluated a point peeling method that may be useful in the analysis of such data. Our objectives were to 1) identify an appropriate peeling criterion that performs well across the suite of underlying behaviors, and 2) compare sample and expected utilization distribution (UD) curves as the basis of a procedure for classifying animal behavior. We addressed the first objective by comparing 3 peeling criteria: 1) peeling farthest from the sample centroid, 2) peeling farthest from the harmonic mean, and 3) peeling the location that caused the greatest decrease in area of remaining data. We compared these criteria across 5 different biologically plausible home-range behaviors as represented by 5 idealized statistical distributions. Comparison of expected UD curves and those generated from simulated data revealed several important considerations: 1) the centroid peeler offered the most accurate and consistent results, 2) the harmonic mean peeler exhibited particularly large amounts of variability, and 3) the area peeler was not able to consistently identify distributions representing clustered or territorial behavior. We addressed the second objective by comparing sample curves to expected UD curves using the centroid peeler. Results revealed each of the sample UD curves captured the key features of the underlying statistical distribution and hence, when dealing with real samples, the behavior. Further, in several examples, the UD curves identified underlying distributions that were not apparent by visual inspection. Overall, point peeling using the centroid peeling function provided a simple but robust procedure for field biologists that made good use of all the data from a sample. This procedure provided an objective home-range measure and a way of classifying home-range use.
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Vol. 70 • No. 2