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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 35(1)

The success of GPS collar deployments on mammals in Australia

Alison Matthews A S, Laura Ruykys B, Bill Ellis C, Sean FitzGibbon C, Daniel Lunney D, Mathew S. Crowther E, Alistair S. Glen F, Brad Purcell G, Katherine Moseby B H, Jenny Stott H, Don Fletcher I, Claire Wimpenny I, Benjamin L. Allen J, Linda Van Bommel K, Michael Roberts L, Nicole Davies C, Ken Green M, Thomas Newsome E, Guy Ballard N, Peter Fleming O, Christopher R. Dickman E, Achim Eberhart P, Shannon Troy Q, Clive McMahon R and Natasha Wiggins K

A Institute for Land, Water and Society, School of Environmental Sciences, Charles Sturt University, PO Box 789, Albury, NSW 2640, Australia.
B University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.
C University of Queensland, St Lucia, Qld 4072, Australia.
D Biodiversity Conservation Science Section, Scientific Services, Office of Environment and Heritage, Department of Premier and Cabinet, Hurstville, NSW 2220, Australia.
E School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.
F WA Department of Environment and Conservation, and Invasive Animals CRC, Dwellingup, WA 6213, Australia.
G University of Western Sydney, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia.
H Arid Recovery, Roxby Downs, SA 5725, Australia.
I ACT Land Management and Planning, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.
J University of Queensland, Gatton, Qld 4343, Australia.
K University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tas. 7001, Australia.
L Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW 2109, Australia.
M National Parks and Wildlife Service, Jindabyne, NSW 2627, Australia.
N Vertebrate Pest Research Unit, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.
O Vertebrate Pest Research Unit, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Orange, NSW 2800, Australia.
P University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Vic. 3010, Australia.
Q University of Tasmania, School of Zoology, and CRC Forestry, Hobart, Tas. 7001, Australia.
R Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT 0909, Australia.
S Corresponding author. Email: almatthews@csu.edu.au

Australian Mammalogy 35(1) 65-83 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/AM12021
Submitted: 1 May 2012  Accepted: 4 July 2012   Published: 4 February 2013


 
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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, VHF and 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.

Additional keywords: field performance, fix success, location data, satellite, wildlife tracking.


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