Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2007Peer reviewed

A mathematical and statistical framework for modelling dispersal

Snall T, O'Hara RB, Arjas E


Mechanistic and phenomenological dispersal modelling of organisms has long been an area of intensive research. Recently, there has been an increased interest in intermediate models between the two. Intermediate models include major mechanisms that affect dispersal, in addition to the dispersal curve of a phenomenological model. Here we review and describe the mathematical and statistical framework for phenomenological dispersal modelling. In the mathematical development we describe modelling of dispersal in two dimensions from a point source, and in one dimension from a line or area source. In the statistical development we describe applicable observation distributions, and the procedures of model fitting, comparison, checking, and prediction. The procedures are also demonstrated using data from dispersal experiments. The data are hierarchically structured, and hence, we fit hierarchical models. The Bayesian modelling approach is applied, which allows us to show the uncertainty in the parameter estimates and in predictions. Finally, we show how to account for the effect of wind speed on the estimates of the dispersal parameters. This serves as an example of how to strengthen the coupling in the modelling between the phenomenon observed in an experiment and the underlying process - something that should be striven for in the statistical modelling of dispersal

Published in

2007, Volume: 116, number: 6, pages: 1037-1050

      SLU Authors

    • Snäll, Tord

      • Department of Conservation Biology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)