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Applications of satellite telemetry to wildlife research and management in Alaska

January 1, 1988

Since 1984, the Alaska Fish and Wildlife Research Center, in cooperation with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and several other agencies, has used the Argos Data Collection and Location System to address wildlife research and management problems in Alaska and other parts of North America. The use of satellite telemetry has overcome some of the logistical problems of working in remote areas in an arctic environment, where harsh weather, darkness, worker safety considerations, extensive movements by some species, and high costs of locating study animals often result in small incomplete data sets. As of September 1988, 241 satellite transmitters (PPTs) have been deployed on large mammals, including 109 on polar bears in the Bering, Beaufort and Chukchi seas; 74 on caribou in northern Alaska and northwestern Canada; 22 on brown bears in northern Alaska and Kodiak Island, Alaska; 12 on muskoxen in northeastern Alaska and Greenland; 7 on wolves in northern Alaska; 7 on walrus in the Bering and Chuckchi seas; 4 on mule deer in Idaho; 2 on elk in Wyoming; 2 on moose in southcentral Alaska; and 2 on Dall sheep int the Brooks Range of northern Alaska. The Argos DCLS has provided more than 19,000 and 66,000 locations for polar bears and caribou, respectively, and has been used to document the international ranges of these species and to address specific management questions in a cost-effective manner. The precision of locations provided by the Argos DCLS was examined using transmitters placed on the ground or on buildings and compared to the precision from that prior to deployment, presumably because of the proximity of the antenna to the animal's body. The mean error of locations for PTTs on captive animals was 954 m(+or- 1324 SD; median -553 m; n -330). Sensors for determining ambient temperature, short- and long-term indices of animal activity immersion of transmitters in saltwater, and dive depths, were developed and tested. The long-term activity index indicated animal mortality and was correlated with movement patterns for the three species we examined ; caribou, moose and mountain sheep. The short-term index was calibrated to specific activities for captive caribou, moose, mule deer and elk, and was used to determine qualitative trends in activity budgets for free-ranging caribou.

Publication Year 1988
Title Applications of satellite telemetry to wildlife research and management in Alaska
Authors S.G. Fancy, R.B. Harris, David C. Douglas, L.F. Pank, Kenneth R. Whitten, Thomas R. McCabe, Steven C. Amstrup, G.W. Garner
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Index ID 70187125
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Science Center