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Wildlife Science Assignment

  1. Aims and Study Systems

The objective of Wallace et al.'s 2022 study was to create an Automated Radiotelemetry System (ARTS) that would revolutionise the monitoring of tiny mammals, with a focus on prairie voles. This study filled a critical information gap in the field of wildlife tracking technologies. Monitoring the behaviour and movements of small mammals in their natural environments, like prairie voles, proved to be an intimidating issue prior to this. The creation of ARTS was expected to bridge this gap by offering a more effective and accurate way to monitor and comprehend the circadian rhythms and general behaviours of these intriguing creatures. 

Abril-Colón et al. (2022), on the other hand, concentrated on the ecological study of the Canarian houbara bustard, an indigenous to the Canary Islands subspecies that is critically endangered. Their research sought to understand the complex dynamics affecting the home range and resource use of this endangered species in order to eventually inform and implement conservation strategies for its protection. The Canarian houbara bustard's habitat preferences and behaviour were poorly understood before this study, which provided important information for the conservation of the species.

Three sympatric anuran species—the Wood frog, the Southern Leopard frog, and the Green frog—need both important habitats and movement corridors, according to Pitt et al. (2017), who worked in the wooded study landscapes of the Southeast United States. Their research addressed a critical knowledge gap about how these amphibians use their habitats when navigating through altered environments, which is essential for their conservation in the face of fragmented and changing landscapes. While focusing on Pyrenean bearded vultures, Margalida et al. (2016) investigated the mysteries surrounding their temporal and spatial migrations as well as the potential impact of Supplementary Feeding Sites (SFS) on their behaviour. This multifaceted investigation aimed to illuminate the vulture's behaviour and spatial use patterns, shedding light on how SFS might shape their movements. The study held significant implications for developing effective conservation strategies tailored to the unique ecological needs of these majestic birds.
 

  1. Comparison of Movement Technology

The ARTS system used in the study by Wallace et al. (2022), comprising 32 isotropic antenna arrays and 4 broadband receivers, offers a powerful tool for studying small mammals like prairie voles. It excels in investigating circadian rhythms and behaviours, generating a substantial dataset of 217,242 fixes. However, its spatial accuracy is limited to 1 meter, which may hinder precise habitat-related insights. Researchers using ARTS should be aware of this limitation and supplement it with other methods if fine-scale spatial data is critical. In contrast, GPS tracking technology, exemplified by the study by Abril-Colón et al. (2022) on 43 Canarian Houbara Bustards, provides continuous and high-resolution data over extended periods. This is particularly advantageous for understanding habitat selection and movement patterns. Nevertheless, a potential drawback lies in the sample size, which, as in this case, can be relatively small for robust statistical analyses. Moreover, while GPS technology is exceptional at recording location, it might not capture all behavioural nuances, necessitating the integration of complementary methods.

Pitt et al. (2017) used radio-telemetry to analyse anuran species, which allows for extremely accurate movement monitoring. These species included 15 wood frogs, 11 southern leopard frogs, and 6 green frogs. As demonstrated by Spearman's rank correlation and conditional logistic regression, this technology is appropriate for studies into habitat preference. The low number of observations per subject, however, is a common radio-telemetry restriction that may make it more difficult for the study to accurately record individual variability and complicated behaviours. Last but not least, the 66,467 GPS coordinates employed by Margadila et al. (2016) to follow 19 Pyrenean Bearded Vultures have the benefit of very accurate spatial data, enabling extensive geographical and temporal studies. However, it's important to remember that this study's sample size was small, which might have limited how broadly the results could be applied. The study also concentrated on a particular population, which could not be typical of the species as a whole.

The selection of tracking technology in a comparative analysis should be in line with the goals and limitations of the study. The most adaptable and potent technique thus far, GPS tracking looks to have high-resolution data and spatial precision. However, sample size restrictions and the capacity to record distinct behavioural patterns must be carefully taken into account by researchers. Where possible, combining different tracking technologies can give a more thorough insight into animal behaviour and environment while minimising the drawbacks of individual techniques (Nathan et al., 2022).

References

Abril-Colón, I., Alonso, J. C., Palacín, C., Ucero, A., & Álvarez-Martínez, J. M. (2022). Factors modulating home range and resource use: A case study with Canarian houbara bustards. Movement Ecology10(1), 49.https://doi.org/10.1186/s40462-022-00346-1

Margalida, A., Pérez-García, J. M., Afonso, I., & Moreno-Opo, R. (2016). Spatial and temporal movements in Pyrenean bearded vultures (Gypaetus barbatus): Integrating movement ecology into conservation practice. Scientific Reports6(1), 35746. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep35746

Pitt, A. L., Tavano, J. J., Baldwin, R. F., & Stegenga, B. S. (2017). Movement ecology and habitat use of three sympatric anuran species. Herpetological Conservation and Biology12(1), 212-224. https://www.researchgate.net/profile.pdf

Wallace, G., Elden, M., Boucher, R., & Phelps, S. (2022). An automated radiotelemetry system (ARTS) for monitoring small mammals. Methods in Ecology and Evolution13(5), 976-986.  https://doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.13794

Nathan, R., Monk, C. T., Arlinghaus, R., Adam, T., Alós, J., Assaf, M., & Jarić, I. (2022). Big-data approaches lead to an increased understanding of the ecology of animal movement. Science, 375(6582), eabg1780. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abg1780


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