The success of GPS collar deployments on mammals in Australia

  • Matthews A
  • Ruykys L
  • Ellis B
 et al. 
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Abstract

Global Positioning System (GPS) wildlife telemetry collars are being used increasingly to understand the movement patterns of wild mammals. However, there are few published studies on which to gauge their general utility and success. This paper highlights issues faced by some of the first researchers to use GPS technology for terrestrial mammal tracking in Australia. Our collated data cover 24 studies where GPS collars were used in 280 deployments on 13 species, including dingoes or other wild dogs (Canis lupus dingo and hybrids), cats (Felis catus), foxes (Vulpes vulpes), kangaroos (Macropus giganteus), koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus), livestock guardian dogs (C. l. familiaris), pademelons (Thylogale billardierii), possums (Trichosurus cunninghami), quolls (Dasyurus geoffroii and D. maculatus), wallabies (Macropus rufogriseus and Petrogale lateralis), and wombats (Vombatus ursinus). Common problems encountered were associated with collar design, the GPS,VHFand timed-release components, and unforseen costs in retrieving and refurbishing collars. We discuss the implications of collar failures for research programs and animal welfare, and suggest how these could be avoided or improved. Our intention is to provide constructive advice so that researchers and manufacturers can make informed decisions about using this technology, and maximise the many benefits of GPS while reducing the risks.

Author-supplied keywords

  • field performance
  • fix success
  • location data
  • satellite
  • wildlife tracking.

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