Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 505897
Title Neckband or backpack? Differences in tag design and their effects on GPS/accelerometer tracking results in large waterbirds
Author(s) Kölzsch, Andrea; Neefjes, Marjolein; Barkway, Jude; Müskens, G.J.D.M.; Langevelde, Frank van; Boer, Willem F. de; Prins, Herbert H.T.; Cresswell, Brian H.; Nolet, Bart A.
Source Animal Biotelemetry 4 (2016)1. - ISSN 2050-3385
Department(s) Behavioural Ecology
Resource Ecology
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2016
Abstract Background
GPS and accelerometer tracking presently revolutionises the fields of ecology and animal behaviour. However, the effects of tag characteristics like weight, attachment and data quality on study outcomes and animal welfare are important to consider. In this study, we compare how different tag attachment types influence the behaviour of a group of tagged large waterbirds, GPS accuracy and behaviour classification success from accelerometer data.

Both neckband and backpack tags had similar effects on the behaviour of six captive Canada geese (Branta canadensis), increasing the amount of discomfort behaviour in relation to untagged individuals. Both treatment groups also slightly decreased the amount of foraging, but the duration of neither vigilance nor resting was affected. GPS positions that were filtered with classical GPS platform settings (i.e. smoothing) were more accurate than positions improved by satellite-based differential augmentation. Tag attachment, however, did not induce any differences in position accuracy of both data types. Behaviour classification success was generally similar for neckband and backpack tags. But in detail, behaviours mainly performed by the head like foraging and vigilance were better detected from accelerometer data of neckband tags, whereas behaviours like resting and walking were more successfully detected from backpack tag data.

Our findings suggest that the use of neckband or backpack tags for tracking large waterbirds and their behaviour largely depends on which behaviours are most important to detect. However, for wildlife tracking studies, factors like tag retention time are also of great importance, especially for animals like some goose species that are known to quickly destroy backpack tags. For future studies, we advise to carefully evaluate not only tag weight, but also attachment methods and data quality, because the right choice depends on the research question. This will improve the scope of wildlife tracking even more for various scientific, conservation and management applications.
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