Doctoral Dissertations

Keywords and Phrases

Akaike Information Criterion; Lévy walks; Phase transitions; Power law


This dissertation attempts to answer questions from two different areas of biology, ecology and neuroscience, using physics-based techniques. In Section 2, suitability of three competing random walk models is tested to describe the emergent movement patterns of two species of primates. The truncated power law (power law with exponential cut off) is the most suitable random walk model that characterizes the emergent movement patterns of these primates. In Section 3, an agent-based model is used to simulate search behavior in different environments (landscapes) to investigate the impact of the resource landscape on the optimal foraging movement patterns of deterministic foragers. It should be noted that this model goes beyond previous work in that it includes parameters such as spatial memory and satiation, which have received little consideration to date in the field of movement ecology. When the food availability is scarce in a tropical forest-like environment with feeding trees distributed in a clumped fashion and the size of those trees are distributed according to a lognormal distribution, the optimal foraging pattern of a generalist who can consume various and abundant food types indeed reaches the Lévy range, and hence, show evidence for Lévy-flight-like (power law distribution with exponent between 1 and 3) behavior. Section 4 of the dissertation presents an investigation of phase transition behavior in a network of locally coupled self-sustained oscillators as the system passes through various bursting states. The results suggest that a phase transition does not occur for this locally coupled neuronal network. The data analysis in the dissertation adopts a model selection approach and relies on methods based on information theory and maximum likelihood.


Bahar, Sonya

Committee Member(s)

Henson, Bob
Fraundorf, Phil
Yamilov, Alexey
Loiselle, Bette
Parris, Paul Ernest, 1954-



Degree Name

Ph. D. in Physics


Missouri University of Science and Technology

Publication Date

Fall 2012


x, 119 pages

Note about bibliography

Includes bibliographical references.


© 2012 Prabhavi Kaushalya Premachandra, All rights reserved.

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

File Type




Subject Headings

Animals -- Food
Random walks (Mathematics)
Neural networks (Neurobiology)

Thesis Number

T 10098

Electronic OCLC #


Included in

Physics Commons