A new ecological tool for fine-grained movement studies in time and space (#60)
The hefty size and weight of positional information devices for tracking wild animals often limit their use to large species. We describe a new tool to quantify spatially-defined movement of small animals at very fine temporal scales. We have built a low cost and low power device (positional information gadget [PIG]), weighting only ~16 g that can be used in tandem with purpose-built base-stations to track small free-ranging animals. The PIGs have two capabilities. First, they can transmit a signal every second that is picked up by the base-stations within range, allowing the animal’s identity and its proximity to be recorded. Second, they obtain the GPS locational fixes at programmable time intervals and can automatically transfer all GPS data to the base-stations when within range. This system provides a reliable, cost effective way to obtain highly detailed identity-location-time information over weeks, without needing to re-capture animals. This new technology used alone or in combination with other field methods (e.g. GUDs, behavioural video recording, etc.) has a range of interesting ecological applications.