Animal Biotelemetry

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ISSN / EISSN : 2050-3385 / 2050-3385
Total articles ≅ 244
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, Christian Stolz, Jesper Madsen, Bart A. Nolet
Published: 13 July 2021
Animal Biotelemetry, Volume 9, pp 1-13; doi:10.1186/s40317-021-00249-9

Sensors, such as accelerometers, in tracking devices allow for detailed bio-logging to understand animal behaviour, even in remote places where direct observation is difficult. To study breeding in birds remotely, one needs to understand how to recognise a breeding event from tracking data, and ideally validate this by direct observation. We tagged 49 adult female pink-footed geese (Anser brachyrhynchus) with transmitter neckbands in Finland in spring of 2018 and 2019, and in Svalbard in summer 2018, and validated inferences from tracking by field observations of nesting sites and family status in 2018–2020 (54 spring–summer tracks). We estimated nesting locations by taking the median coordinates of GPS-fixes at which the goose was motionless (overall dynamic body acceleration, ODBA < 1) on days with a daily median ODBA < 1, which approached the real nesting locations closely (within 1.6–3.7 m, n = 6). The start of nesting was defined as the first day on which the goose spent > 75% of time within 50 m of the nest, because nest site attendances steeply increased within one day to above this threshold. Nesting duration (number of consecutive days with > 75% nest site attendance) ranged between 3 and 44 days (n = 28), but was 30–34 days in confirmed successful nests (n = 9). The prolonged nesting of 39–44 days (n = 3) suggested incubation on unhatchable egg(s). Nest losses before hatching time occurred mostly in day 3–10 and 23–29 of nesting, periods with an increased frequency of nest site recesses. As alternative method, allowing for non-simultaneous GPS and accelerometer data, we show that nesting days were classified with 98.6% success by two general characteristics of breeding: low body motion (daily median ODBA) and low geographic mobility (daily SD of latitude). Median coordinates on nesting days approached real nest sites closely (within 0.8–3.6 m, n = 6). When considering only geographic mobility (allowing for GPS data only) nesting locations were similarly accurate, but some short nesting attempts were undetected and non-breeding tracks misclassified. We show that nesting attempts, as short as 3 days, and nesting success can be detected remotely with good precision using GPS-tracking and accelerometry. Our method may be generalised to other (precocial) bird species with similar incubation behaviour.
, Susanne F. McDermott, Julie K. Nielsen, Dave Fraser, Kimberly M. Rand
Published: 7 July 2021
Animal Biotelemetry, Volume 9, pp 1-18; doi:10.1186/s40317-021-00250-2

Background Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus) is an ecologically important species that supports a valuable commercial fishery throughout Alaska waters. Although its life history includes seasonal movement for spawning and feeding, little is known about its movement ecology. Here, we present results from the first study to use pop-up satellite archival tags (PSATs) to track the within-year movements of Pacific cod to understand their potential seasonal movement patterns within the Aleutian Islands. This study was part of a cooperative research project; tagging was conducted onboard commercial vessels during the winter fishing season while Pacific cod were aggregated to spawn in the central Aleutian Islands. Results Of the 36 PSATs deployed, we were able to obtain movement data from 13 Pacific cod that were at liberty between 60 and 360 days. We determined that three tagged Pacific cod were predated on by marine mammals and three were recaptured by the commercial fishery. Geolocation models were produced for four migrating individuals. Eight Pacific cod moved to a productive foraging ground near Seguam Island located 64 to 344 km from their release site and presumed spawning ground within a few weeks of their release. These movements indicate that some Pacific cod in the Aleutian Islands undergo seasonal migration. Three Pacific cod remained near their release locations (within 50 km) for more than 75 days suggesting the existence of partial migration in the population. Two Pacific cod undertook larger movements (378 and 394 km) during which they swam over deep passes and crossed several management boundaries highlighting the potential connectedness of Pacific cod throughout the Aleutian Islands. Conclusions This study provided important initial insights into the seasonal movement patterns of Pacific cod in the Aleutian Islands. Most tracked Pacific cod (77%) undertook migrations in the middle of March (64–394 km) from their winter spawning areas to summer foraging areas, but a few individuals remained in their capture location suggesting a partial migration strategy. Their ability to cross deep passes that were previously seen as potential barriers to movement has expanded our understanding of population connectivity.
, Mark D. Holton, Mike D. Scantlebury, O. Louis van Schalkwyk, Holly M. English, Hannah J. Williams, Phil Hopkins, Flavio Quintana, Agustina Gómez-Laich, Luca Börger, et al.
Published: 1 July 2021
Animal Biotelemetry, Volume 9, pp 1-37; doi:10.1186/s40317-021-00245-z

Background Fine-scale data on animal position are increasingly enabling us to understand the details of animal movement ecology and dead-reckoning, a technique integrating motion sensor-derived information on heading and speed, can be used to reconstruct fine-scale movement paths at sub-second resolution, irrespective of the environment. On its own however, the dead-reckoning process is prone to cumulative errors, so that position estimates quickly become uncoupled from true location. Periodic ground-truthing with aligned location data (e.g., from global positioning technology) can correct for this drift between Verified Positions (VPs). We present step-by-step instructions for implementing Verified Position Correction (VPC) dead-reckoning in R using the tilt-compensated compass method, accompanied by the mathematical protocols underlying the code and improvements and extensions of this technique to reduce the trade-off between VPC rate and dead-reckoning accuracy. These protocols are all built into a user-friendly, fully annotated VPC dead-reckoning R function; Gundog.Tracks, with multi-functionality to reconstruct animal movement paths across terrestrial, aquatic, and aerial systems, provided within the Additional file 4 as well as online (GitHub). Results The Gundog.Tracks function is demonstrated on three contrasting model species (the African lion Panthera leo, the Magellanic penguin Spheniscus magellanicus, and the Imperial cormorant Leucocarbo atriceps) moving on land, in water and in air. We show the effect of uncorrected errors in speed estimations, heading inaccuracies and infrequent VPC rate and demonstrate how these issues can be addressed. Conclusions The function provided will allow anyone familiar with R to dead-reckon animal tracks readily and accurately, as the key complex issues are dealt with by Gundog.Tracks. This will help the community to consider and implement a valuable, but often overlooked method of reconstructing high-resolution animal movement paths across diverse species and systems without requiring a bespoke application.
Rebecca R. Robinson, Jeremy Notch, Alex McHuron, Renae Logston, Tom Pham, Arnold J. Ammann
Published: 21 June 2021
Animal Biotelemetry, Volume 9, pp 1-10; doi:10.1186/s40317-021-00246-y

Background Acoustic telemetry is a widely used tool to study the movement and survival of juvenile fish and often requires a surgical procedure to implant the transmitter, which may impact overall fitness and survival following release. This is an important consideration when implementing large-scale acoustic telemetry projects aimed at estimating outmigration survival. The objective of this study was to examine the effects of water temperature, tag type, size at tagging, and surgeon experience on tag retention and growth rate of juvenile Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). We tagged 128 spring-run Chinook salmon (81–97 mm fork length, 5.2–10.0 g, tag burden 2.4–6.0%) with one of two types of acoustic transmitters; a shorter, heavier model (‘standard’) and a longer, lighter model (‘injectable’). Fish were tagged by either a novice or experienced surgeon. An additional 64 untagged fish served as a control group and were split between temperature treatments. Fish were reared in either cool (mean 13.4 °C) or warm (mean 17.8 °C) water for 60 days, prior to being euthanized, weighed and measured. Results Tag retention was similar for both transmitter types, but varied with water temperature, with significantly higher tag loss in the warm treatment (21.9%, 14 tags expelled), compared to the cold treatment (7.8%, 5 tags expelled). In the warm treatment, fish growth in the injectable tag group was significantly lower compared to the control group, and lower than the standard tag group, but not significantly lower. There was no significant difference between the control and standard tag groups for the warm treatment. In the cool temperature treatment, fish growth was not significantly different among any of the factors tested. Surgery time differed between surgeons; however, surgeon experience did not significantly affect tag shedding or growth. Conclusion Total tag loss was 14.8% over the 60-day trial, with higher and earlier loss in the warmer treatment. Tag length may be a more important factor than tag weight in smaller size fish. This suggests that tag shedding is a significant factor to consider when estimating survival, as the actual survival rate may be higher than estimates based solely on receiver detections.
Yiming Tian, , Joseph Korpela, Daichi Amagata, Takahiro Hara, Sakiko Matsumoto, Ken Yoda
Published: 5 June 2021
Animal Biotelemetry, Volume 9, pp 1-15; doi:10.1186/s40317-021-00242-2

Background Recent advances in sensing technologies have enabled us to attach small loggers to animals in their natural habitat. It allows measurement of the animals’ behavior, along with associated environmental and physiological data and to unravel the adaptive significance of the behavior. However, because animal-borne loggers can now record multi-dimensional (here defined as multimodal) time series information from a variety of sensors, it is becoming increasingly difficult to identify biologically important patterns hidden in the high-dimensional long-term data. In particular, it is important to identify co-occurrences of several behavioral modes recorded by different sensors in order to understand an internal hidden state of an animal because the observed behavioral modes are reflected by the hidden state. This study proposed a method for automatically detecting co-occurrence of behavioral modes that differs between two groups (e.g., males vs. females) from multimodal time-series sensor data. The proposed method first extracted behavioral modes from time-series data (e.g., resting and cruising modes in GPS trajectories or relaxed and stressed modes in heart rates) and then identified two different behavioral modes that were frequently co-occur (e.g., co-occurrence of the cruising mode and relaxed mode). Finally, behavioral modes that differ between the two groups in terms of the frequency of co-occurrence were identified. Results We demonstrated the effectiveness of our method using animal-locomotion data collected from male and female Streaked Shearwaters by showing co-occurrences of locomotion modes and diving behavior recorded by GPS and water-depth sensors. For example, we found that the behavioral mode of high-speed locomotion and that of multiple dives into the sea were highly correlated in male seabirds. In addition, compared to the naive method, the proposed method reduced the computation costs by about 99.9%. Conclusion Because our method can automatically mine meaningful behavioral modes from multimodal time-series data, it can be potentially applied to analyzing co-occurrences of locomotion modes and behavioral modes from various environmental and physiological data.
Nathan D. Stott, Matthew D. Faust, Christopher S. Vandergoot, Jeffrey G. Miner
Published: 27 May 2021
Animal Biotelemetry, Volume 9, pp 1-10; doi:10.1186/s40317-021-00243-1

Background In recent years, large-scale acoustic telemetry observation networks have become established globally to gain a better understanding of the ecology, movements and population dynamics of fish stocks. When studying a species that uses different habitats throughout its life history difficulty may arise where acoustically suboptimal habitats are used, such as shallow, vegetated areas. To test the feasibility of active tracking in these acoustically suboptimal habitats, we quantified detection probability and location error as a function of several environmental variables with two transmitter types in a shallow freshwater embayment. Results When placed in nearshore areas (< 1 m deep), the higher-powered transmitter (158 dB) had significantly greater detection probability than the lower-powered transmitter (152 dB). For both transmitter types, detection probability declined at 200 m; however, at the 100 m distance the higher-powered transmitter had greater than 50% detection probability per ping cycle (50.4%) while the lower-powered transmitter was substantially less (29.4%). Additionally, detection probability increased when the transmitter was deployed within sparse, senescent Phragmites spp. vegetation (14%). Estimated positional accuracy of transmitters deployed at known locations (location error) was variable (error range: 13–259 m), and was generally higher for the more powerful transmitter. Location error was minimized when the lower-powered transmitter was located near softened shoreline areas compared to near man-made armored shorelines (i.e., rip-rap). Conclusion While benefits exist for maximizing transmitter power (e.g., increased detection range in open-water environments), use of a lower-powered transmitter may be advantageous for active tracking specific locations of fish inhabiting shallow water environments, such as in estuarine tidal marshes and shallow wetlands. Thus, when planning acoustic telemetry studies, researchers should conduct site-specific preliminary detection probability/location error experiments to better understand the utility of acoustic telemetry to investigate fish movements in acoustically suboptimal conditions.
, Steven L. Whitlock
Published: 21 May 2021
Animal Biotelemetry, Volume 9, pp 1-1; doi:10.1186/s40317-021-00241-3

An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via the original article.
, Pierre Blévin, Christophe Barbraud, Olivier Chastel, Henri Weimerskirch
Published: 20 May 2021
Animal Biotelemetry, Volume 9, pp 1-11; doi:10.1186/s40317-021-00240-4

Background The internal environment of eggs in most birds is regulated by transferring heat energy through contact incubation, maintaining nest microclimate, and frequent egg turning by the incubating parent on its nest. However, we lack information about egg attendance patterns in birds that breed in polar environments where variations in life history are expected to influence incubation behavior. Moreover, crevice/burrow nesting petrels in high-latitude regions are known for periodically leaving their egg unattended (hereafter ‘egg neglect’), but there is little reporting on the internal condition of unattended eggs. At Dumont d’Urville Station, Antarctica, we studied the incubation behavior of 24 snow (Pagodroma nivea) and 15 Cape (Daption capense) petrel pairs using egg loggers that recorded egg turning rates, orientation changes, and temperatures at 1 Hz for durations of 3–6 days. Results Egg turning frequency (1.31 ± 0.33 vs. 1.38 ± 0.39 turns h−1), angle change per turn (43.1 ± 43.2 vs. 48.6 ± 43.7° turn−1), and egg temperature (34.1 ± 2.3 vs. 34.1 ± 2.0 °C) were nearly identical for snow and Cape petrels, respectively. However, egg neglect was only observed in snow petrel nests (based on egg temperature changes) where loggers recorded mean durations of 1.34 ± 1.15 days (maximum duration of 3.63 days). During periods of neglect, eggs cooled to 5.5 ± 1.8 °C over an average of 91 min, but were rewarmed by parents in only 76 min at a rate of 0.33 °C min−1. Conclusions Egg temperatures of both species during regular incubation were within 1–2 °C of other high-latitude petrel species, but neglected snow petrel eggs remained several degrees above freezing, which was likely attributed to crevice nesting where neglected eggs are buffered by environmental conditions. Using egg rewarming rates, thermal capacity of eggs, and published metabolic rates, we estimate egg rewarming costs in snow petrels to be 1.5 to 1.9 × BMR. Excluding egg neglect periods, turning rates for both petrel species were lower than other seabirds studied using biologging devices, which may be associated with the prolonged incubation periods that are characteristic of procellariiform seabirds.
Mareike D. Duffing Romero, Jordan K. Matley, Jiangang Luo, Jerald S. Ault, Simon J. Pittman, Richard S. Nemeth
Published: 3 May 2021
Animal Biotelemetry, Volume 9, pp 1-14; doi:10.1186/s40317-021-00239-x

Background Atlantic tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) are a highly migratory species ranging along continental and insular coastlines of the Atlantic Ocean. Due to their importance to regional recreational and sport fisheries, research has been focused on large-scale movement patterns of reproductively active adults in areas where they are of high economic value. As a consequence, geographically restricted focus on adults has left significant gaps in our understanding of tarpon biology and their movements, especially for juveniles in remote locations where they are common. Our study focused on small-scale patterns of movement and habitat use of juvenile tarpon using acoustic telemetry in a small bay in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Results Four juvenile tarpon (80–95 cm FL) were tracked from September 2015 to February 2018, while an additional eight juveniles (61–94 cm FL) left the study area within 2 days after tagging and were not included in analysis. Four tarpon had > 78% residency and average activity space of 0.76 km2 (range 0.08–1.17 km2) within Brewers Bay (1.8 km2). Their vertical distribution was < 18 m depth with occasional movements to deeper water. Activity was greater during day compared to night, with peaks during crepuscular periods. During the day tarpon used different parts of the bay with consistent overlap around the St. Thomas airport runway and at night tarpon typically remained in a small shallow lagoon. However, when temperatures in the lagoon exceeded 30 °C, tarpon moved to cooler, deeper waters outside the lagoon. Conclusion Our results, although limited to only four individuals, provide new baseline data on the movement ecology of juvenile Atlantic tarpon. We showed that juvenile tarpon had high residency within a small bay and relatively stable non-overlapping daytime home ranges, except when seasonally abundant food sources were present. Fine-scale acoustic tracking showed the effects of environmental conditions (i.e., elevated seawater temperature) on tarpon movement and habitat use. These observations highlight the need for more extensive studies of juvenile tarpon across a broader range of their distribution, and compare the similarities and differences in behavior among various size classes of individuals from small juveniles to reproductively mature adults.
, Jonathan Jossart, Melissa Kimble, Richard S. Nemeth
Published: 16 April 2021
Animal Biotelemetry, Volume 9, pp 1-14; doi:10.1186/s40317-021-00237-z

Background The movement ecology of mutton snapper Lutjanus analis is poorly understood despite their ecological and economic importance in the Caribbean. Passive acoustic telemetry was used to determine home ranges of six adult L. analis, including diel patterns, in Brewers Bay, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Understanding long-term space use, including site fidelity and habitat usage, is necessary to implement effective and appropriate management actions for a species with extensive space and resource needs. Results Individual L. analis were tracked over an average period of 316 days (range 125–509 days) and showed high site fidelity to relatively small home ranges (mean ± SD: 0.103 ± 0.028 km2, range 0.019–0.190 km2) and core use areas with low overlap among individuals. Most home ranges had a habitat composition dominated by seagrass and to a lesser degree, coral reef and/or pavement. Nighttime activity spaces were distinct from but contained within daytime areas. Conclusions Mutton snapper showed strong site fidelity to home ranges in Brewers Bay. Two individuals that were absent from the array for more than a few hours were detected at separate arrays at spawning aggregation sites. This study expands upon knowledge of mutton snapper home range characteristics, highlights the importance of maintaining adjacent high-quality habitat types in any spatial management plan, and encourages the adoption of other types of management strategies, particularly for transient-aggregating species.
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