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Handbook of Animal Radio-Tracking

Handbook of Animal Radio-Tracking

L. David Mech
Copyright Date: 1983
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 120
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Handbook of Animal Radio-Tracking
    Book Description:

    A practical manual which explains the use of radio-tracking in ecological and biological research.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8191-4
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Uses of Radio-Tracking
    (pp. 3-10)

    Radio-tracking is a revolutionary technique for studying many kinds of free-ranging animals. By March 1979, one of the leading commercial suppliers of radio-tracking equipment had sold over 17,500 radio collars. Numerous species, from crayfish through elephants, have been studied with this technique in widespread regions of the world, from pole to pole and in most major countries of the world.

    Even snakes, turtles, lemmings, thrushes (Figure 1), and whales have been forced to divulge their secretive habits and wide-ranging travels to modern-day scientists wielding radio-tracking equipment. Polar bears(Ursus maritimus)wander the top of the Earth, while their movements are...

  6. History of Radio-Tracking
    (pp. 10-15)

    It is difficult to say just who started the use of radiotracking (Kimmich 1980). No doubt the idea occurred to several people at about the same time (p. xi). The first publication on the subject seems to have been by LeMunyan and others (1959), who used a short-range implantable transmitter. Marshall and others (1962) followed them with an article on radio-tracking porcupines(Erithizon dorsatum)via external transmitters, and several other workers described their radio-tracking experiences in the 1963 volume edited by L. E. Slater,Biotelemetry: The Use of Telemetry in Animal Behavior and Physiology in Relation to Ecological Problems.Nevertheless,...

  7. The Radio-Tracking System
    (pp. 15-32)

    Radio-tracking systems have two major parts: a transmitting system and a receiving system. The transmitting system consists of a transmitter, a power source, and a transmitting antenna, and these are usually attached to an animal in a collar or a harness. The receiving system is made up of a receiver, a power source, a receiving antenna, and an operator or a recorder. A necessary third element of the radio-tracking system is a human interpreter, who may be greatly aided by a computer. Commercially available transmitters weigh as little as 1.4 g, and measure only 7 by 10 mm (Figure 8)....

  8. Radio Frequency
    (pp. 32-35)

    Radio-tracking equipment, like other types of radio equipment, comes in various frequencies (p. 16). Usually, each radio used in a study varies in frequency somewhat from all the others in that same study. This allows the individual identification necessary to keep track of each animal. Furthermore, there are several major frequency ranges commonly used, and their properties differ. In choosing a frequency range for a study, one should consider the following factors: (1) commercial availability of equipment, (2) legality of operation, (3) transmitting properties, and (4) compatibility or conflict with other studies.

    The frequency ranges usually available from most telemetric...

  9. Pulse Rates
    (pp. 35-36)

    Although some radio-tracking transmitters use a continuous-wave signal that sounds like a whine, most transmitters made for radio-tracking emit energy in bursts, or pulses. Such transmitters produce a “beep, beep, beep” as heard through the receiver. These pulses can vary in rate and duration (width). The slower the rate of pulsing and the narrower the width, the longer a transmitter can last for a given battery weight. Signals with pulse rates of less than about 60 per minute are difficult to locate. Pulse widths less than about 20 msec are often easy to miss when one is trying to tune...

  10. Range
    (pp. 36-41)

    The range of a telemetric transmitter depends on many factors, including the following: (1) its power output, which in turn depends on the weight and type of battery, the voltage, and whether or not there is an amplifier stage to the transmitter; (2) the tuning of the transmitter in relation to the body of the animal; (3) the transmitter antenna, including its length, which is a function of the frequency, its position, and whether or not it is a loop or whip; (4) the height of the animal above ground; (5) the elevation of the animal above the general terrain;...

  11. Transmitter Life
    (pp. 41-42)

    The life of the transmitter depends on several factors. Its ultimate life is a direct function of the weight and type of batteries powering it. For example, a 50-g lithium cell will power most transmitters for about 500 days, assuming a commonly used current drain of about 0.3 to 0.5 mamp. On the other hand, a solar cell, theoretically, would power a transmitter forever as long as the sun was shining.

    A second class of factors determining transmitter life are the electrical properties. For example, the more current drain when the transmitter is operating, the shorter the life, and vice...

  12. Attachment Techniques
    (pp. 42-44)

    The most common method of attaching transmitters to animals is by a collar (Figure 1 9). With some species the collar can be slipped over the head, but for others it must be opened around the animal’s neck, adjusted precisely, and then bolted shut. Several considerations should be kept in mind when attaching a radio collar. Room must be left for growth and/or seasonal enlargement of the neck. However, the collar must be snug enough that the animal cannot get its front foot through it. I know of one cottontail rabbit(Sylvilagus floridanus)and two deer(Odocoileus virginianus)that put...

  13. Transmitter Reliability
    (pp. 44-49)

    The reliability of a transmitter varies, depending on whether it was homemade or commercially made, which company produced it, and on what species it is used. In general, privately made transmitters are not as reliable as commercial units. The latter have the advantage of professional construction, manufacturer’s experience, testing with expensive and sophisticated equipment, and partial guarantees. The biggest advantage of privately made transmitters is that they have the individual attention of the person building them at all stages of construction and testing.

    As with any other product, the quality of the radio transmitter varies with the manufacturer, and for...

  14. To Buy or To Build?
    (pp. 49-50)

    As indicated earlier, there are several advantages to buying radio-tracking equipment from commercial manufacturers. It is sometimes difficult to find compatible components for transmitters, but commercial manufacturers can afford to buy such components in large quantities, test them for compatibility with each other, and discard those that are incompatible. Manufacturers are also better able to test the components, and they usually keep informed about new types of components with better characteristics. Their general experience, specific knowledge about radio-tracking equipment, and practice generally ensure the higher quality and efficiency of commercial transmitters.

    In addition, most of the manufacturers of radiotracking equipment...

  15. Types of Receiving Systems
    (pp. 50-57)

    The basic receiving system consists of a radio receiver, an antenna, and a recorder, which usually is a human being. This basic system can vary in several ways, however. The various types of antennas have already been mentioned, and several makes and models of receivers are commercially available. This section describes the different ways in which receiving systems can be set up physically and used.

    In the simplest version of a radio-tracking system, the basic components are carried by the operator. The receiver is usually placed in a carrying case or sidepack, which can be hung from the side or...

  16. Radio-Tracking Techniques
    (pp. 58-74)

    The simplest radio-tracking technique uses a portable, hand-held receiver and a directional antenna. With experience, one can determine the general direction of the radioed animal and some estimate of its distance. Obviously, this type of system is most useful with smaller, less mobile animals. All that is necessary is to tune in the signal, turn down the gain as low as possible while still keeping a signal, and then swing the directional antenna slowly in an arc. At the point when the strongest signal is heard, the antenna is pointing toward the animal. Judging the distance to the animal depends...

  17. Errors and Accuracy
    (pp. 75-79)

    As indicated earlier, much radio-tracking is done by triangulation during which bearings to the transmitter are obtained from two locations. After consideration has been made for the degree of magnetic declination in a specific area, the intersection of the two bearings represents the best estimate of the location of the signal’s source. However, no antenna is precise in its directionality; that is, there may be as much as 2° or 3° of latitude in determining the bearing of a signal. The same is true when the bearing is taken from the second point. Therefore, the actual location of the animal...

  18. Physiological Telemetry
    (pp. 80-80)

    Most of this booklet has been devoted to a discussion of radio-tracking and the use of radio telemetry to help locate animals. However, it also is possible to use small radio transmitters to study such physiological parameters as deep-body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and peristalsis and to obtain electroencephalograms, electrocardiograms, and electromyograms (Van Citters and Franklin 1966; Van Otters et al. 1966; Amlaner 1978). Studies of these factors require the use of special equipment that is usually implanted in the animal and that has relatively limited range (Folk 1966). Therefore, most investigations of these parameters using telemetry are...

  19. Considerations in Starting a Radio-Tracking Program
    (pp. 81-83)

    Radio-tracking is a revolutionary technique and one that most wildlife biologists will find of considerable use. It is also different from the techniques with which most wildlife biologists have experience; therefore, a certain amount of practice is needed before one undertakes a radio-tracking project. Many beginners ask experienced radio-trackers to help them get started or visit radiotracking projects in order to gain experience with them. A relatively small investment in one of these approaches pays great dividends in the resulting project. The following are several other considerations that should be made in setting up a radio-tracking project.

    It is usually...

    (pp. 84-92)
  21. APPENDIX I General References
    (pp. 95-95)
  22. APPENDIX II Exercises to Practice Radio-Tracking
    (pp. 96-96)
  23. APPENDIX III Suppliers of Radio-Tracking Equipment
    (pp. 97-98)
  24. Index
    (pp. 101-107)
  25. Back Matter
    (pp. 108-108)