CSIRO Publishing blank image blank image blank image blank imageBooksblank image blank image blank image blank imageJournalsblank image blank image blank image blank imageAbout Usblank image blank image blank image blank imageShopping Cartblank image blank image blank image You are here: Journals > Australian Mammalogy   
Australian Mammalogy
  Journal of the Australian Mammal Society
blank image Search
blank image blank image
blank image
  Advanced Search

Journal Home
About the Journal
Editorial Structure
Online Early
Current Issue
Just Accepted
All Issues
Special Issues
Sample Issue
For Authors
General Information
Submit Article
Author Instructions
For Referees
Referee Guidelines
Review an Article
For Subscribers
Subscription Prices
Customer Service
Print Publication Dates
Library Recommendation

blue arrow e-Alerts
blank image
Subscribe to our Email Alert or RSS feeds for the latest journal papers.

red arrow Connect with CP
blank image
facebook twitter logo LinkedIn

red arrow Connect with AMS
blank image


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

PDF (459 KB) $25
 Export Citation

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.


Allen, B. L. (2007). The spatial ecology and zoonoses of urban dingoes, and the use of Traversed Area Polygons (TAPs) to calculate home range sizes. In ‘Proceedings of the Workshop on the Remote Monitoring of Wild Canids and Felids, Australian National University, Canberra, 21–22 March 2007’. (Eds P. Fleming and D. Jenkins.) p. 14. (Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre: Canberra.)

Allen, B. L. (2012). Do desert dingoes drink daily? Visitation rates at remote waterpoints in the Strzelecki Desert. Australian Mammalogy 34, 251–256.

Allen, L. R. (2009). Best practice baiting: dispersal and seasonal movement of wild dogs (Canis lupus familiaris). In ‘Technical Highlights: Invasive Plant and Animal Research 2008–09’. pp. 61–62. (Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation: Brisbane.)

Andersen, M., Derocher, A. E., Wiig, Ø., and Aars, J. (2008). Movements of two Svalbard polar bears recorded using geographical positioning system satellite transmitters. Polar Biology 31, 905–911.
CrossRef |

Bandeira de Melo, L. F., Lima Sábato, M. A., Vaz Magni, E. M., Young, R. J., and Coelho, C. M. (2007). Secret lives of maned wolves (Chrysocyon brachyurus Illiger 1815): as revealed by GPS tracking collars. Journal of Zoology 271, 27–36.
CrossRef |

Blackie, H. M. (2010). Comparative performance of three brands of lightweight global positioning system collars. Journal of Wildlife Management 74, 1911–1916.
CrossRef |

Burdett, C. L., Moen, R. A., Niemi, G. J., and Mech, L. D. (2007). Defining space use and movements of Canada lynx with global positioning system telemetry. Journal of Mammalogy 88, 457–467.
CrossRef |

Cain, J. I., Krausman, P., Jansen, B., and Morgart, J. (2005). Influence of topography and GPS fix interval on GPS collar performance. Wildlife Society Bulletin 33, 926–934.
CrossRef |

Casper, R. M. (2009). Guidelines for the instrumentation of wild birds and mammals. Animal Behaviour 78, 1477–1483.
CrossRef |

Claridge, A., Mills, D., Hunt, R., Jenkins, D., and Bean, J. (2009). Satellite tracking of wild dogs in south-eastern mainland Australian forests: implications for management of a problematic top-order carnivore. Forest Ecology and Management 258, 814–822.
CrossRef |

D’Eon, R., and Delparte, D. (2005). Effects of radio-collar position and orientation on GPS radio-collar performance, and the implications of PDOP in data screening. Ecology 42, 383–388.

Dennis, T. E., Chen, W. C., Koefoed, I. M., Lacoursiere, C. J., Walker, M. M., Laube, P., and Forer, P. (2010). Performance characteristics of small global-positioning-system tracking collars for terrestrial animals. Wildlife Biology in Practice 6, 14–31.
CrossRef |

Di Orio, A., Callas, R., and Schaefer, R. (2003). Performance of two GPS telemetry collars under different habitat conditions. Wildlife Society Bulletin 31, 372–379.

Dussault, C., Courtois, R., Ouellet, J., and Huot, J. (1999). Evaluation of GPS telemetry collar performance for habitat studies in the boreal forest. Wildlife Society Bulletin 27, 965–972.

Eberhart, A. (2011). Impacts of habitat fragmentation on dispersal of native mammals. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Melbourne.

Ellis, W., Bercovitch, F., FitzGibbon, S., Roe, P., Wimmer, J., Melzer, A., and Wilson, R. (2011). Koala bellows and their association with the spatial dynamics of free-ranging koalas. Behavioral Ecology 22, 372–377.
CrossRef |

Frair, J. L., Fieberg, J., Hebblewhite, M., Cagnacci, F., DeCesare, N. J., and Pedrotti, L. (2010). Resolving issues of imprecise and habitat-biased locations in ecological analyses using GPS telemetry data. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 365, 2187–2200.
CrossRef |

Gau, R., Mulders, R., Ciarniello, L. M., Heard, D. C., Chetkiewicz, C.-L. B., Boyce, M., Munro, R., Stenhouse, G., Chruszcz, B., Gibeau, M. L., Milakovic, B., and Parker, K. L. (2004). Uncontrolled field performance of Televilt GPS-Simplex™ collars on grizzly bears in western and northern Canada. Wildlife Society Bulletin 32, 693–701.
CrossRef |

Girard, I., Ouellet, J. P., Courtois, R., Dussault, C., and Breton, L. (2002). Effects of sampling effort based on GPS telemetry on home-range size estimations. Journal of Wildlife Management 66, 1290–1300.
CrossRef |

Graves, T. A., and Waller, J. S. (2006). Understanding the causes of missed global positioning system telemetry fixes. Journal of Wildlife Management 70, 844–851.
CrossRef |

Harris, S., Cresswell, W. J., Forde, P. G., Trewhella, W. J., Woollard, T., and Wray, S. (1990). Home-range analysis using radio-tracking data – a review of problems and techniques particularly as applied to the study of mammals. Mammal Review 20, 97–123.
CrossRef |

Hemson, G. (2002). The potential for using GPS-collars on wild African lion (Panthera leo): some lessons from experience. In ‘Lion Conservation Research. Workshop 2: Modelling Conflict’. (Eds A. J. Loveridge, T. Lynam and D. W. Macdonald.) pp. 59–65. (Wildlife Conservation Research Unit: Oxford.)

Hulbert, I. A. R., and French, J. (2001). The accuracy of GPS for wildlife telemetry and habitat mapping. Journal of Applied Ecology 38, 869–878.
CrossRef |

Johnson, C., Heard, D., and Parker, K. (2002). Expectations and realities of GPS animal location collars: results of three years in the field. Wildlife Biology 8, 153–159.

Jones, M., Hamede, R., and McCallum, H. (2012). The devil is in the detail: conservation biology, animal philosophies and the role of animal ethics committees. In ‘Science Under Siege: Zoology Under Threat’. (Eds P. Banks, D. Lunney and C. Dickman.) (Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales: Sydney.)

Kaczensky, P., Ito, T. Y., and Walzer, C. (2010). Satellite telemetry of large mammals in Mongolia: what expectations should we have for collar function? Wildlife Biology in Practice 6, 108–126.

Kochanny, C. O., Delgiudice, G. D., and Fieberg, J. (2009). Comparing global positioning system and very high frequency telemetry home ranges of white-tailed deer. Journal of Wildlife Management 73, 779–787.
CrossRef |

Lizcano, D. J., and Cavelier, J. (2004). Using GPS collars to study mountain tapirs (Tapirus pinchaque) in the central Andes of Colombia. Newsletter of the IUCN/SSC Tapir Specialist Group 13/2, 18–23.

Lunney, D. (2012). Ethics and Australian mammalogy: reflections on 15 years (1991–2006) on an Animal Ethics Committee. Australian Mammalogy 34, 1–17.
CrossRef |

Lunney, D. Crowther, M. S., Wallis, I., Foley, W. J., Lemon, J., Wheeler, R., Madani, G., Orscheg, C., Griffith, J. E., Krockenberger, M., Retamales, M., and Stalenberg, E. (2012). Koalas and climate change: a case study on the Liverpool Plains, north-west NSW. In ‘Wildlife and Climate Change: Towards Robust Conservation Strategies for Australian Fauna’. (Eds D. Lunney and P. Hutchings.) pp. 150–168. (Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales: Sydney.)

Matthews, A., and Green, K. (2012). Seasonal and altitudinal influences on the home range and movements of common wombats in the Australian Snowy Mountains. Journal of Zoology 287, 24–33.
CrossRef |

Mattisson, J., Andren, H., Persson, J., and Segerstrom, P. (2010). Effects of species behavior on global positioning system collar fix rates. Journal of Wildlife Management 74, 557–563.
CrossRef |

McMahon, C. R., Wiggins, N. L., French, V., McCallum, H. I., and Bowman, D. M. J. S. (). Capture myopathy in the Tasmanian pademelon. Animal Welfare (South Mimms, England) , .

Merrill, S., Adams, L., Nelson, M., and Mech, L. (1998). Testing releasable GPS radiocollars on wolves and white-tailed deer. Wildlife Society Bulletin 26, 830–835.

Millspaugh, J., and Marzluff, J. (2001). ‘Radio Tracking and Animal Populations.’ (Academic Press: San Diego.)

Moen, R., Pastor, J., Cohen, Y., and Schwartz, C. (1996). Effects of moose movement and habitat use on GPS collar performance. Journal of Wildlife Management 60, 659–668.
CrossRef |

Moseby, K., Stott, J., and Crisp, H. (2009). Movement patterns of feral predators in an arid environment – implications for control through poison baiting. Wildlife Research 36, 422–435.
CrossRef |

Purcell, B. V. (2010). Order in the pack: ecology of Canis lupus dingo in the southern Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Western Sydney.

Recio, M. R., Mathieu, R., Denys, P., Sirguey, P., and Seddon, P. J. (2011). Lightweight GPS-tags, one giant leap for wildlife tracking? An assessment approach. PLoS ONE 6, e28225.
CrossRef | CAS |

Robley, A., Gormley, A., Forsyth, D., Wilton, A., and Stephens, D. (2010). Movements and habitat selection by wild dogs in eastern Victoria. Australian Mammalogy 32, 23–32.
CrossRef |

Rodgers, A. R. (2001). Tracking animals with GPS: the first 10 years. In ‘Tracking Animals with GPS. An International Conference Held at the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute’. Available at http://www.macaulay.ac.uk/gps/gps_abstract_2001.pdf/ [accessed 27 February 2012].

Rodgers, A. R., Rempel, R. S., and Abraham, K. F. (1996). A GPS-based telemetry system. Wildlife Society Bulletin 24, 559–566.

Ruykys, L., Ward, M. J., Taggart, D. A., and Breed, W. G. (2011). Preliminary spatial behaviour of warru (Petrogale lateralis MacDonnell Ranges race) in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, South Australia. Australian Mammalogy 33, 181–188.
CrossRef |

Sheppard, J. K., Preen, A. R., Marsh, H., Lawler, I. R., Whiting, S. D., and Jones, R. E. (2006). Movement heterogeneity of dugongs, Dugong dugon (Müller), over large spatial scales. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 334, 64–83.
CrossRef |

Spencer, H., and Miller, T. (2006). Flying-fox GPS logger-collar progress report. Australasian Bat Society Newsletter 27, 10–15.

Thomas, B., Holland, J. D., and Minot, E. O. (2011). Wildlife tracking technology options and cost considerations. Wildlife Research 38, 653–663.
CrossRef |

Tomkiewicz, S. M., Fuller, M. R., Kie, J. G., and Bates, K. K. (2010). Global positioning system and associated technologies in animal behaviour and ecological research. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B 365, 2163–2176.
CrossRef |

Vogelnest, L., and Portas, T. (2008). Macropods. In ‘Medicine of Australian Mammals’. (Eds L. Vogelnest and R. Woods.) pp. 133–225. (CSIRO Publishing: Melbourne.)

Wiggins, N. L., and Bowman, D. M. J. S. (2011). Macropod habitat use and response to management interventions in an agricultural–forest mosaic in north-eastern Tasmania as inferred by scat surveys. Wildlife Research 38, 103–113.
CrossRef |

Wiggins, N. L., Williamson, G. J., McCallum, H. I., McMahon, C. R., and Bowman, D. M. J. S. (2010). Shifts in macropod home ranges in response to wildlife management interventions. Wildlife Research 37, 379–391.
CrossRef |

Zweifel-Schielly, B., Kreuzer, M., Ewald, K., and Suter, W. (2009). Habitat selection by an alpine ungulate: the significance of forage characteristics varies with scale and season. Ecography 32, 103–113.
CrossRef |

Subscriber Login

Legal & Privacy | Contact Us | Help


© CSIRO 1996-2016