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Developing the next generation of tracking device


High precision GPS data collected from loggers attached to wildlife is currently the cornerstone of studies trying to understand animal movements in order to inform conservation or management decisions. The work Combined Ecology carries out is no exception and we often use a variety of tracking devices on different species to collect the information needed to help answer the applied questions of our clients. While the discipline is closely regulated and carried out by highly experienced professionals to minimise any impacts to the welfare of the animals studied, there are advantages and disadvantages to the each of the multitude array of devices available and not all will be appropriate for all studies.

In an effort to produced tracking devices designed specifically to record the information most valuable to ecologists the Movetech Telemetry partnership was formed, consisting of experts from the British Trust for Ornithology, University of East Anglia, University of Lisbon and the University of Porto. The aim was to develop devices at a cost low enough to enable meaningful samples of animals to be tracked and use the mobile phone network to send and receive data so that animals can be tracked in near real-time and settings can be updated to suit the needs of the project, even after deployment. The current generation of devices are suitable for medium to large species such as gulls and raptors but continual improvement in the technology will increase opportunities for other species in years to come as well.

Over the last few years Movetech devices have been used on over 20 species, mostly throughout Europe and West Africa, providing valuable information to a wide range of projects. Movetech is now in a position not only to continue to develop devices for its own partner organisations but also make then available to the wider research community.

Visit the Movetech Telemetry website for more information.

Author: Gary Clewley, Senior Ecologist Combined Ecology