Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Statistics


Computer Science and Statistics

First Advisor

Gavino Puggioni


The decline in young forests has caused almost 70% of the birds that flourish in such habitats to experience a severe population decline over the past 60 years. The American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) is no exception to this population reduction due to its heavy reliance on such habitats, making them a key indicator species for young forest management. Conservationists rely on information received from tracking woodcock for details about the young forest vegetation in hopes of preserving the habitat and protecting the wildlife that flourishes in such areas. This paper expands on previous research that focused heavily on the spatial location of the tracked American Woodcock by including the temporal aspect of the data. Previous research on woodcock movement introduced a Resource Selection Function (RSF), that categorizes Rhode Island’s available habitat land into levels of usage and assigns a number value to the different locations. We created a linear mixed-effects model to verify which attributes affect the distance traveled by the woodcock. The resulting model shows that the forest management site at which the bird frequents, the longitude of the birds’ location, and the RSF value of the coordinates are the main factors that influence the woodcock’s movement. We also designed a Hidden Markov Model to analyze the state changes of each bird to explain the behavior that causes movement changes. The resulting model indicates that the RSF is a key indicator of the woodcock’s behavioral changes. There are three distinct states that the woodcock movement can be categorized: normal small-scale movement in core areas (State 1), exploratory travel (State 2), and long-distance travel from one core area to another (State 3). The resulting information provided by the Hidden Markov Model about the behavioral states of the woodcock can provide conservationists with more information on where the ideal habitat is for the bird by providing an in-depth look into where the bird travels over and where the bird chooses to stay.

Available for download on Friday, May 17, 2024