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On uses, misuses and potential abuses of fractal analysis in zooplankton behavioral studies: A review, a critique and a few recommendations

Abstract : Fractal analysis is increasingly used to describe, and provide further understanding to, zooplankton swimming behavior. This may be related to the fact that fractal analysis and the related fractal dimension D have the desirable properties to be independent of measurement scale and to be very sensitive to even subtle behavioral changes that may be undetectable to other behavioral variables. As early claimed by Coughlin et al. (1992), this creates "the need for fractal analysis" in behavioral studies, which has hence the potential to become a valuable tool in zooplankton behavioral ecology. However, this paper stresses that fractal analysis, as well as the more elaborated multifractal analysis, is also a risky business that may lead to irrelevant results, without paying extreme attention to a series of both conceptual and practical steps that are all likely to bias the results of any analysis. These biases are reviewed and exemplified on the basis of the published literature, and remedial procedures are provided not only for geometric and stochastic fractal analyses, but also for the more complicated multifractal analysis. The concept of multifractals is finally introduced as a direct, objective and quantitative tool to identify models of motion behavior, such as Brownian motion, fractional Brownian motion, ballistic motion, Lévy flight/walk and multifractal random walk. I finally briefly review the state of this emerging field in zooplankton behavioral research.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, May 3, 2022 - 10:13:54 AM
Last modification on : Monday, May 9, 2022 - 9:21:18 AM

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Laurent Seuront. On uses, misuses and potential abuses of fractal analysis in zooplankton behavioral studies: A review, a critique and a few recommendations. Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, 2015, 432, pp.410-434. ⟨10.1016/j.physa.2015.03.007⟩. ⟨insu-03657481⟩

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