Oral Presentation- Symposium 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Wildlife wearables: Advances in remote wildlife surveillance, from real-time GPS to wearable video cameras in kangaroo case studies (#250)

Cathy A Herbert 1 , Georgia Thomas 1 , Philip HW Leong 1 , Mariela Dassis 2 , Peter Jones 1 , Matthew Pye 1 , Gabriel E Machovsky-Capuska 1
  1. The University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW, Australia
  2. Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Mar del Plata, Argentina

Ecologists have long been interested in the factors that drive wild animal movement patterns, social behaviour and foraging strategies. Understanding these processes is becoming increasingly important, as we try to predict the ways in which animal populations will respond to rapidly changing environments. Recent advances in remote sensing technologies, such as miniaturisation of GPS units, batteries and cameras, combined with a decrease in the cost of these technologies, means that there is now a plethora of technological approaches for remotely studying wild animal behaviour. We will present results from a series of studies incorporating remote sensing technology into ecological investigations of eastern grey kangaroos. We will demonstrate the capacity of animal-borne video cameras, combined with GPS continuous data-loggers, to provide an “animal’s eye-view” of fine-scale foraging behaviour in field conditions. From six successful deployments in kangaroos, we analysed simultaneous GPS tracks and up to 120 hours of video footage to reveal foraging performance and choice. These results demonstrate the enormous potential of this technology to enhance our understanding of foraging patterns and habitat preferences of wild mammals. We will also report on the use of miniaturised GPS and solar battery technology to record and remotely download the location data of eight kangaroos in a periurban environment, compared with traditional store-on-board and off-the-shelf GPS trackers. These combined case-studies highlight the need to consider the costs and benefits of different technologies relative to the specific ecological and management questions in mammalogy to ensure that the technology is fit for purpose.