Group

Biologging / Feed

Real-time tracking of animal movements is enabling more effective and efficient wildlife monitoring for management, security, and research. As devices get smaller and prices drop, the possibilities for using biologging on a larger scale have grown, and so have the possibilities for increasing customisation to meet specific research needs. Likewise, real-time tracking of illegal wildlife trade, timber, and fish products as they move from source to consumer can shed light on trafficking routes and actors, as well as support enforcement, making tracking gear a powerful tool beyond the field.

discussion

Xerius tracking technology

If you are interested in hearing about what they do, then drop me a line as you are welcome to attend the meeting with them in Cambridge this Friday 26th May. The website is...

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Thanks for sharing these Yvan - really interesting to see your process of designing harnesses for the tags. Please do keep us updated on the project as you progress. What made you go with the Xerius tag over others that are available?  

My other comments are largely administrative, so bare with me. Sounds like it might be helpful for us to enable more types of files to be shared on WILDLABS- I'll have a look into this. Your contribution has shifted the direction of this conversation from an event invitation to practical project/information sharing discussion, so I'm also going to move this conversation into our wildlife tracking group, as I think this will make it more readily accessible to our tracking focused members if/when you update it with your finessed designs. 

 

Hi Steph,

My colleagues chose Xerius because they had the fastest turn-around time (the project had a late start and birds are starting to migrate soon) and cheaper prices. The tracking specs are similar to the other manufacturers of GPS-PTTs. I have never worked with Xerius tags but I visited their lab and they struck me by their attention to details and the quality of the hardware they created.

I will keep you posted.

Hi Yvan,

Glad you have chosen Xerius as from what I have seen their equipment is excellent and I was very impressed with their telemetry knowledge. We have one of their goniometer units and this has enabled us to locate a number of our downed satellite tagged birds.

As for making up dummy tags and testing harnesses then another option is Polymorph, especially if you are working on a limited budget after paying for a number of tags! You just drop the beads  into boiling water and mould into the shapes you require easily making holes and grooves etc. It sets rapidly and as you say the addition of nuts and bolts get you to your required weights.

https://www.maplin.co.uk/p/mindsets-polymorph-250g-n14at

 

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discussion

Pit-tag automatic detector for very small animals

Dear all very small animals (eg < 1g) cannot be equipped with VHF or GPS system to track their movements. One way is the use of passive transmitter (PIT-Tag) as emettor (...

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Hi Claude,

What sort of an environment will you be doing your research in, if you don't mind recapturing them again you could try using micro coded wire tags? 

Hopefully that might be of some help to you and all the best with it.

 

Matt

Hi, you should explore (harmonic radar, Schottky diode 917 y 1834 MHz), the bad things it's that you can't get and ID and the receiver that uses two antennas it's really expensive (U$.7000) or use a radar system with satellite dish that would be more expensive.

Hi Claude,

If you are looking into cord antennas, the attached paper might be of interest (the authors are all from CNRS, which might be easier for collaborations).  A difference would be that you might need a faster sampling rate (since penguins are much slower than small mammals and take more time to cross the array of antennas).

Do keep us updated on your project. 

Yvan

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discussion

PIT tag suppliers in the UK

Hi all,  Does anyone have any recommendations for PIT tag (+ reader) suppliers in the UK?  I've used Francis Scientific Instruments before - a very small...

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Hi Kai - I asked for a UK supplier, but thanks.

Hi everyone -

I had a recommendation for http://www.wyremicrodesign.co.uk/. Apparently used successfully for a couple of projects, and designed/built some bespoke readers. The owner can be contacted on [email protected]

I went with Francis Scientific Instruments in the end, as they've been reliable and helpful on past projects. You can contact Mike (Francis) on [email protected]

Cheers, Ollie

Hi Ollie,

Thank you for the update! This will be of use to other community members!

 

-John

Not been on Wildlabs for a long time but I recommend Eccel Technology in Leicester and even build them into bird rings. We have been using theirs.

RSPB have built a data logger around the Arduino and plan to put the design and code on Wildlabs sometime later in the year. There are many commercially available and cheap means of solely reading PIT or as they also known RFID tags.

Thanks

Nigel

 

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discussion

GPS wildlife tracking on the cheap

Hi everyone, Should this be of interest, please see our how to on making a cheap GPS device https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaSvS0grVjw The paper here https://euanritchie....

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discussion

Pangolin Tagging Challenges

Hi! I'm looking for information on Pangolin transmitters or sensors, the basics to start off with. What information is gathered specific to this species or what are the...

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The folks at Save Vietnam's Wildlife do a lot of work with pangolins, and might have some good thoughts to share:  http://www.savevietnamswildlife.org

Paul

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discussion

Can acoustic tags be tracked by poachers

Hi all, Currently working on a project that may involve placing acoustic tags on critically endangered fish. I was wondering what the liklihood was that poachers could use...

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Hi Matt,

 

This is a very broad question. Short answer, probably not. Narrowing down your problem would help community members get better context. What's the species you're working with? In which country/region is this occuring? How many of the fish are there? What are the current technologies being used to catch the fish by the poachers? 

Hi, 

I would be looking at tagging a select number sturgeon fish in Georgia (Eurasia). Currently estimates have their popultion at around 10,000 and I am thinking of tagging around 30 individuals. Currently poachers use non-discriminate methods such as electro-fishing to capture them so I am right in thinking the acoustic tags should be ok?

Thank you for all your help,

Matt

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discussion

Pangolin Tagging Challenges

Hi! I'm looking for information on Pangolin transmitters or sensors, the basics to start off with. What information is gathered specific to this species or what are the...

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Hi!

Information I'm looking for also includes needed cost, design specifications, concerns with designs in use now, pictures of transmitters attached to pangolins, or anything similar.

Sincerely,

Priya

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discussion

Open Tag IMU data analysis

Hi- Does anyone have better ideas for data analysis of opentag IMU data analysis than Matlab ?  To back up a bit, I was given csv files of some movement data. the...

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Hi Michael

I made some progress on a Java library and little GUI but I did not finish it. Although I managed the boring stuff, unpacking the DSG files and put some nifty magnetic calbration stuff in.

This is NOT a finished or functional product but it is open source, so if anyone wanted to finish it off, I'd be more than happy. I intend to do it eventually but at the back of the list opf things to do.

The application main class is here: It's integrated into a larger application but can be used as a standalone app. Good luck to anyone who wants to take it on- make sure any further work stays accessible and open please.

Cheers

Jamie

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discussion

Small GSM GPS tracking tags - recommendations needed!

Hi everyone,  A colleague is after some advice about GSM GPS trackers that could be used on tigers and hornbills. She asks: Where could we secure GPS tracking ...

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Hi, 

I have been involved in a variety of tracking projects over the last few years for the BTO, including the use of GPS-GSM tags we have been developing with university partners.

Firstly, I'd suggest that your colleague contact me or reply on this thread with a little more information, i.e. how small is small? Is there a known weight limit needed? Current of the shelf type tags designed for bird tracking will generally be 20g and higher but are unlikely to be suitable as they come as they usually are solar recharged. 

However, it would be very possible to assemble some lighter prototypes (i.e. we are currently working on a c.10g GSM tag) specifically for this application after a bit of consultation of requirements (which may influence housing, dimensions, battery size etc.).

These would need to be tested in conditions simulating their intended use as a very small tag may simply not have enough power to obtain fixes with lots of interference and last long as long as required. There is always a trade off with weight and performance.

Another key thing to consider would be the location these will be deployed and the likely GSM network coverage. Although tags would be able to log data and store it until it does come into coverage.

There are several manufacturers I know of who would likely be able to develop something for this project and it may just depend on exactly what is required and when as to who is in the best place to delivery some tags.

I look forward to hearing back, 

 

Gary Clewley

Research Ecologist, BTO

[email protected]

 

 

 

 

Hi there

Check out Microwave Telemetry at http://www.microwavetelemetry.com/bird/GSMspecifications.cfm

Sirtrack may also be worth checking out (though I'm not sure what GSM trackers they have).  http://www.sirtrack.co.nz/

Good luck and let us know how you go. We're always looking for lightweight, long-lasting (solar or movement-powered) GPS trackers... or even trackers using IoT and sensor networks...

cheers

Alan

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discussion

Integrating wildlife tracking with other technologies

Hello all, An interesting article that outlines the use of radio tracking in combination with physiological sensors to assess the effect of habitat on the physical well-being...

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Hi Paul, 

Interesting question. Are you interested in hearing about case studies that are investigating these sensor integrations? If so, I'm happy to share a number of examples I know of.  

This article in the WILDLABS.NET resources area might have a few additions for the list. It profiles a lot of different examples of conservation tech (and includes links and videos), so it's worth checking out. 

A new addition to the list I've spotted is a magnetometer - part of a slew of sensors UC Santa Cruz has added to a SMART collar they've developed for Pumas. From the aforementioned article:

UC Santa Cruz: SMART Collar 

Scientists at UC Santa Cruz have developed a Species Movement, Acceleration and Radio Tracking (SMART) Collar to study puma movements and caloric needs, similar to a Fitbit. The collars include a GPS unit, accelerometers, and a magnetometer to provide detailed data on where an animal is and what it is doing. 

After callibrating the collars with captive pumas, the team were able to were able to continuously monitor the movements of mountain lions in the wild and determine how much energy the big cats use to stalk, pounce, and overpower their prey. These findings help explain why most cats use a 'stalk and pounce' hunting strategy. 

The researchers were able to quantify, for example, the high energetic costs of traveling over rugged terrain compared to the low cost of "cryptic" hunting behaviors such as sit-and-wait or stalk-and-ambush movements. During the actual pounce and kill, the cats invest a lot of energy in a short time to overpower their prey. Data from the collars showed that mountain lions adjust the amount of energy they put into the initial pounce to account for the size of their prey.

The team now wants to look at mountain lion energetics in a range of different habitat types. In particular, they are interested in how human land use and habitat fragmentation may be influencing the energetic demands on mountain lions in the wild. They also have projects using the new collar technology to study other large carnivores, including wolves, polar bears, and Weddell seals.

For more information, visit the Santa Cruz Puma Project website

 

Let me know if you're interested in a list of case studies for the environmental conditions you've already identified and I'll share my secret stash :) 

Steph 

 

 

Hi Paul, 

I just remembered another one for the list. @BethClark is taking some really cool environmental readings for seabirds - Gannets - basically to build a picture of their lives in 3D. She talks about it on her blog here.

A few excerpts: 

Electronic devices are attached onto the birds to record their behaviour: GPS, altimeters, accelerometers and dive recorders. The key will be to use multiple loggers on the same bird to record their flights in great detail. The GPS tracking project has been going on Grassholm for a few years now and we are building up a good picture of where they tend to forage.

The altimeters show the height above the sea, which gives us 3D tracks of the birds’ movements – very cool! The higher you are, the further you can see, but the more difficult it is to pick up scents from the sea. We will find out if these 3D help us pick out foraging behaviour and see how they actually find fish (and fishing boats) in a huge and seemingly featureless ocean.

Dive recorders show the timing and depth of the famous torpedo plunge dives, which will let us know when the birds have successfully found a fishing ground.

The accelerometers measure acceleration in 3 directions, showing even a single wing flap. This will help us to measure how much effort the bird are putting in when they travel and forage, which is very important for trying to figure out how they decide where to go. We will also be able to identify other behaviours, such as telling apart high-speed plunge diving from a slower dive made from the surface.

I think altimeters and dive recorders might be new ones for your list. Beth's here on WILDLABS.NET (and has promised a nice case study for our Resources area), so I think she'd be delighted to answer any questions you might have. 

Cheers,

Steph 

 

Hello again!

An interesting paper exploring the new technologies being used to study cetaceans has a section devoted to what they term high-resolution multisensor tags (page 4).

As with @BethClark 's work above, the questions that arise when studying marine mammals bring another dimension into what information we might require sensors to collect. For example: 

Among cetaceans, there are two suborders: Odontocetes (toothed-whales) and Mysticetes (baleen whales). In general, toothed whales and dolphins use high-frequency acoustics for interanimal communication and feeding. In the marine environment, where sight is limited, sound propagates extremely well and all marine mammals communicate primarily through acoustic cues. Similar to bats, toothed whales and dolphins feed via high-frequency sound production known as echolocation, where acoustic signals reflect off of targets and the returning echoes can be translated into information on the environment or potential prey. For many years, independent passive acoustic recorders have been used to study the vocalizations of marine mammals. However, the incorporation of acoustic recorders (hydrophones) into animal-borne tags has only occurred in the past 20 years (Fletcher, Le Boeuf, Costa, Tyack, & Blackwell, 1996). The information that is recorded on the sensors in these tags (e.g. acoustic, movement) can be used to determine the frequency and acoustic structure of vocal behaviours that occur concomitant with motor behaviour, for example, echolocation signals during feeding events (Madsen, De Soto, Arranz, & Johnson, 2013) or contact calling while diving ( Jensen, Marrero Perez, Johnson, Aguilar Soto, & Madsen, 2011). Echolocation ‘clicks’ and ‘buzzes’ have been used from animal-borne tags to study the foraging behaviour of a wide range of odontocetes, from the small harbour porpoise, Phocoena phocoena, to the largest, the sperm whale (Fais et al., 2015; Wisniewska et al., 2015). This information has provided critical data on the feeding depths, frequency, timing and prey types targeted by different species and the behaviours associated with foraging (Johnson, de Soto & Madsen, 2009). These insights into feeding behaviour have recently been used to help determine foraging performance and foraging ecology (Watwood, Miller, Johnson, Madsen, & Tyack, 2006), as well as the energetic consequences of disturbing this behaviour (Miller et al., 2009). These new data products are ripe for linking to conservation efforts such as the individual and population consequences of human activities disrupting these behaviours (e.g. the use of naval sonar and seismic surveys). We explore below the tools produced, as well as new ones in development, to forge these links.

You have already identified sound in your original list, but I think the use of hydrophones with tags is an interesting addition - an example that didn't immediately spring to mind (at least for me), when I thought about the list. 

Cheers, 

Steph 

 

In Press: Nowacek, D. P., et al., Studying cetacean behaviour: new technological approaches and conservation applications, Animal Behaviour (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2016.07.019

 

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event

Perspectives from the World Ranger Congress

John Probert
The 8th annual World Ranger Congress was held in Colorado, USA from May 21-27th 2016. John H. Probert attended the conference as a representative of WILDLABS.NET. In this report he shares his experiences at the congress...

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discussion

Performance of GPS-collars in wildlife research: what does the evidence show?

Calling on all conservation scientists and practitioners who have worked with GPS-collars for studying or monitoring wildlife worldwide! Dear colleague,...

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Fantastic, thanks Maarten! I've shared your response with Abby, so hopefully you'll have some info coming your way very soon. 

Hi Maarten, 

I'm curious to hear how the survey went and at what stage you're at. Do have any preliminary results to share yet? Anything expected/unexpected come out of the surveys, or big questions that our community could mull over? 

Steph 

Hi Steph,

the survey is closed now, and I'm in the process of screening data. I hope to start with the analysis soon.

So unfortunately, nothing new or exciting yet...

Maarten

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event

Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge Accelerator Bootcamp

Sophie Maxwell
Earlier this month, the 16 prize winners of the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge were called to Washington D.C. for an Accelerator Boot Camp. Sophie Maxwell, a member of the prize winning team from the Zoological Society...

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discussion

Snake telemetry?

Hi Guys, I am currently a zoology undergraduate at Queen Marys London, and was just wondering if there is much use of telemetry still within herpetology; specifically snakes. I...

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