Tracking wildlife by satellite: Current systems and performance

Fish and Wildlife Technical Report 30
By: , and 

Links

Abstract

Since 1984, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has used the Argos Data Collection and Location System (DCLS) and Tiros-N series satellites to monitor movements and activities of 10 species of large mammals in Alaska and the Rocky Mountain region. Reliability of the entire system was generally high. Data were received from instrumented caribou (Rangifer tarandus) during 91% of 318 possible transmitter-months. Transmitters failed prematurely on 5 of 45 caribou, 2 of 6 muskoxen (Ovibos moschatus), and 1 of 2 gray wolves (Canis lupus). Failure rates were considerably higher for polar (Ursus maritimus) and brown (U. arctos) bears than for caribou (Rangifer tarandus). Efficiency of gathering both locational and sensor data was related to both latitude and topography.

Mean error of locations was estimated to be 954 m (median = 543 m) for transmitters on captive animals; 90% of locations were <1,732 m from the true location. Argos's new location class zero processing provided many more locations than normal processing, but mean location error was much higher than locations estimated normally. Locations were biased when animals were at elevations other than those used in Argos's calculations.

Long-term and short-term indices of animal activity were developed and evaluated. For several species, the long-term index was correlated with movement patterns and the short-term index was calibrated to specific activity categories (e.g., lying, feeding, walking).

Data processing and sampling considerations were evaluated. Algorithms for choosing the most reliable among a series of reported locations were investigated. Applications of satellite telemetry data and problems with lack of independence among locations are discussed.

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Title Tracking wildlife by satellite: Current systems and performance
Series title Fish and Wildlife Technical Report
Series number 30
Year Published 1990
Language English
Publisher U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serivce
Publisher location Washington,D.C.
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center
Description 52 p.
Google Analytics Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details