Squid boats anchored in Paita, a port city in northern Peru. Humboldt squid support a massive artisanal fishery in this region.

This post started with a Luke Bornn tweet (link). He shared a link to Rocio Joo and her colleagues’ (2019) paper, Navigating through the R packages for movement (link).

In the paper, Rocio and her colleagues review 57 packages in R that are used to process, analyse and visualise tracking data. They note:

The advent of miniaturized biologging devices has provided ecologists with unparalleled opportunities to record animal movement across scales,and led to the collection of ever-increasing quantities of tracking data

I thought this paper would provide some fascinating background insights for tracking in sport contexts. Their review focussed on tracking data that had “at least 2-dimensional coordinates (x, y) and a time index (t), and can be seen as the geometric representation (the trajectory) of an individual’s path”(2019:2). I was very interested in their report of combined accelerometry, magnetometry and GPS data pre-processing (2019:7).

The paper prompted me to look in more detail at Rocio’s work and to contemplate what sport might learn from ecologists. To my great delight, I found reference to her PhD thesis submitted at the University of Montpellier in December 2013 (link). The title was A behavioral ecology of fishermen: hidden stories from trajectory data in the Northern Humboldt Current System.

The abstract of the thesis starts with:

This work proposes an original contribution to the understanding of fishermen spatial behavior, based on the behavioral ecology and movement ecology paradigms. Through the analysis of Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) data, we characterized the spatial behavior of Peruvian anchovy fishermen at different scales: (1) the behavioral modes within fishing trips (i.e., searching, fishing and cruising); (2) the behavioral patterns among fishing trips; (3) the behavioral patterns by fishing season conditioned by ecosystem scenarios; and (4) the computation of maps of anchovy presence proxy from the spatial patterns of behavioral mode positions.

What struck me about the thesis and its applicability to sport was the reference to ‘behavioural modes‘ associated with the tracks. The thesis is available as a pdf. I have downloaded it to examine it in detail.

Discovering Rocio’s work reminded me of a thesis I found many years ago, that changed my thoughts about how to share research stories. It was written by Jeanne Favret-Saada and had the delightful title Deadly words : witchcraft in the Bocage (1980).

Thanks to Luke, Rocio met Jeanne in this post. Both underscore how important it is that we step outside our comfort zone to explore ideas that can contribute to our practice and the ways in which we theorise about that practice.

Photo Credit

Squid boats anchored in Paita (Allison Guy)


Rocio and her colleagues’ (2018) have also published a recent paper (December) that looks at Metrics for describing dyadic movement (link).


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