Ready for Transfer

Model of Animal Behavior (MOAB)


Agency: U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

Technology: Model of Animal Behavior (MOAB)

Overview: Habitat fragmentation, isolation, type, shape and corridors have been shown to be important issues in community ecology and conservation biology. It has been said that spatially explicit, individual-based models of animal movement and foraging behavior may be useful in understanding how landscape patterns affect ecological processes. USGS scientists have developed a computer program entitled Model of Animal Behavior (MOAB) that can be used to create spatially explicit simulation models of animal foraging.

Details: MOAB was developed in an object-oriented programming language. With it the user can create simulation models of medium- and small-sized mammal movement in regions where the interactions of terrestrial animals and landscape are important. MOAB has built-in flexibility, allowing it to be adapted for modeling terrestrial animal foraging behavior and nest depredation in different ecosystems, modeling four different species simultaneously. MOAB has a graphical user interface, the ability to import and export maps of resources and habitat. It was created to provide a general tool for community ecologists interested in modeling the influence of landscape pattern on animal movement and foraging.

Animal behavior is controlled by user-definable rules of behavior. Species and individual characteristics can be modified by the user. An animal is placed on a map that shows different kinds of food and habitat. The animal makes a decision at each step of what it wants to do. The animal consults the expert system, which asks the animal questions regarding its hunger level and time of day. Based on the user-supplied rules of behavior, the expert system tells the animal what it should do. For example: move to a neighboring cell, stay and do nothing, eat food in current location, or hide food. As animals forage, they build up a memory of where they have been and what they last saw at any particular spot.

Potential Applications:

  • Education
  • Animal Behavior Studies
  • Conservation Biology
  • Mitigation Management
  • Wildlife Management
  • Regional Conservation Management

Opportunity: USGS seeks private industry partners to work with it through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to create a more user-friendly commercial version of the existing MOAB program. MOAB can be used in studies of how animals interact with each other, and the importance of landscape and environment in an animal’s existence. Partners should have experience in marketing and publishing software to an academic audience; managing software development projects; and programming in Smalltalk, Java, or other multi-platform, object-oriented programming language.

Contact: For more information about MOAB, contact Jacoby Carter, principal researcher (National Wetlands Research Center). To discuss partnership and patent licensing opportunities, contact the USGS Branch of Business Development at (703) 648-4652.

View the USGS fact sheet on this opportunity.