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A strategy for recovering continuous behavioral telemetry data from Pacific walruses

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Full Publication:

Product Type: Journal Article

Year: 2016

Authors: Fischbach, A. S. and C. V. Jay

Suggested Citation:
Fischbach, A. S. and C. V. Jay. 2016. A strategy for recovering continuous behavioral telemetry data from Pacific walruses. Wildlife Society Bulletin. doi:10.1002/wsb.685


Tracking animal behavior and movement with telemetry sensors can offer substantial insights required for conservation. Yet, the value of data collected by animal-borne telemetry systems is limited by bandwidth constraints. To understand the response of Pacific walruses (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) to rapid changes in sea ice availability, we required continuous geospatial chronologies of foraging behavior. Satellite telemetry offered the only practical means to systematically collect such data; however, data transmission constraints of satellite data-collection systems limited the data volume that could be acquired. Although algorithms exist for reducing sensor data volumes for efficient transmission, none could meet our requirements. Consequently, we developed an algorithm for classifying hourly foraging behavior status aboard a tag with limited processing power.We found a 98% correspondence of our algorithm's classification with a test classification based on time-depth data recovered and characterized through multivariate analysis in a separate study. Wethen applied our algorithm within a telemetry system that relied on remotely deployed satellite tags. Data collected by these tags from Pacific walruses across their range during 2007-2015 demonstrated the consistency of foraging behavior collected by this strategy with data collected by data logging tags; and demonstrated the ability to collect geospatial behavioral chronologies with minimal missing data where recovery of data logging tags is precluded. Our strategy for developing a telemetry system may be applicable to any study requiring intelligent algorithms to continuously monitor behavior, and then compress those data into meaningful information that can be efficiently transmitted.

Keywords: foraging behavior, haulout, Odobenus rosmarus, satellite telemetry, sensor data, walrus.

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