Performance and accuracy of Argos transmitters for wildlife monitoring in Southern Russia
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Satellite telemetry is a powerful tool for monitoring animal movements, and Argos transmitters have been widely used. Unfortunately, only few studies have systematically evaluated the performance of Argos satellite collars for wildlife monitoring. We tested Argos satellite telemetry transmitters at two power levels in Southern Russia (five transmitters at 0.5 W and three at 1 W). Performance metrics were derived from the number and accuracy of location estimates and the number of days on which collars transmitted or failed to transmit data. Our results suggest that the performance of Argos collars in our study region was poor. At the power level of 0.5 W, 55% of the sessions resulted in at least one transmission, but only 21% provided a location estimate. The percentage of successful sessions did not increase much after setting the power level to 1.0 W (63%), but the increase in the number of location estimates was considerable (54%). At either power level, the majority of the location estimates were in the low quality classes though (80% nonstandard locations with 0.5 W and 45% with 1 W). Positional accuracies were 0.5, 0.7, 1.5, and 4.6 km for location classes 3, 2, 1, and 0, respectively. For nonstandard location classes A and B, positional accuracies were 2.1 and 18.3 km. Careful testing of transmitters is recommended before deployment, as the location of the study area can seriously affect performance.
KeywordsArgos Satellite telemetry Accuracy Performance
We gratefully acknowledge the support for the research from the staff of Stepnoi Nature Reserve and the Center of Wild Animals (Republic of Kalmykia, Russia), NASA’s Land Cover and Land Use Change Program, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Russian Man and Biosphere Program.
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