Visualizing Grevy's Zebra Grouping Behavior
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Understanding habitat use and association behavior of endangered species is essential to their conservation. My research focuses on developing interactive visualization techniques that help conservation biologists understand the social behavior of animals in the context of their ecology and habitat. The image is a 3D model of the terrain in Mpala ranch, Kenya generated from satellite data. The location of Grevy's zebra groupings over two weeks (mapped using GPS) is indicated with a zebra model, and the different “communities” are assigned unique colors and numbers. The 3D visualization reveals how topography plays a factor in separating zebra communities. The smaller map on the bottom-left shows the same data this time superimposed over a 2D map that depicts the different types of vegetation in the habitat. The top-left image is a timeline visualization highlighting the role of an individual's reproductive status in choosing its affiliates over time. Individuals are represented with color-coded lines reflecting their reproductive status (blue and red for non-lactating and lactating females, respectively, orange for stallion males). In this instance, one can see two harem communities merge together forming one stable community. The endangered Grevy's zebras are unique among zebra species in forming strong bonds among individuals lasting for few weeks before dissolving. Using interactive visualization, scientists can observe this behavior on different time scales and understand the ecological factors that shape it.