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Improve wildlife species tracking—Implementing an enhanced global positioning system data management system for California condors

May 3, 2016

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) staff in the Pacific Southwest Region and at the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex requested technical assistance to improve their global positioning system (GPS) data acquisition, management, and archive in support of the California Condor Recovery Program. The USFWS deployed and maintained GPS units on individual Gymnogyps californianus (California condor) in support of long-term research and daily operational monitoring and management of California condors. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) obtained funding through the Science Support Program to provide coordination among project participants, provide GPS Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) transmitters for testing, and compare GSM/GPS with existing Argos satellite GPS technology. The USFWS staff worked with private companies to design, develop, and fit condors with GSM/GPS transmitters. The Movebank organization, an online database of animal tracking data, coordinated with each of these companies to automatically stream their GPS data into Movebank servers and coordinated with USFWS to improve Movebank software for managing transmitter data, including proofing/error checking of incoming GPS data. The USGS arranged to pull raw GPS data from Movebank into the USGS California Condor Management and Analysis Portal (CCMAP) ( for production and dissemination of a daily map of condor movements including various automated alerts. Further, the USGS developed an automatic archiving system for pulling raw and proofed Movebank data into USGS ScienceBase to comply with the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002. This improved data management system requires minimal manual intervention resulting in more efficient data flow from GPS data capture to archive status. As a result of the project’s success, Pinnacles National Park and the Ventana Wildlife Society California condor programs became partners and adopted the same workflow, tracking, and data archive system. This GPS tracking data management model and workflow should be applicable and beneficial to other wildlife tracking programs.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2016
Title Improve wildlife species tracking—Implementing an enhanced global positioning system data management system for California condors
DOI 10.3133/ofr20161030
Authors Robert G. Waltermire, Christopher U. Emmerich, Laura C. Mendenhall, Gil Bohrer, Rolf P. Weinzierl, Andrew J. McGann, Pat K. Lineback, Tim J. Kern, David C. Douglas
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2016-1030
Index ID ofr20161030
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center

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