Motes enhance data recovery from satellite-relayed biologgers and can facilitate collaborative research into marine habitat utilization
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Motes enhance data recovery from satellite-relayed biologgers and can facilitate collaborative research into marine habitat utilization

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  • Journal Title:
    Animal Biotelemetry
  • NOAA Program & Office:
  • Description:
    Background: The fields of biologging and telemetry have triggered significant advances in the understanding of animal behavior, physiological ecology and habitat utilization. Biologging devices (“tags”) can also measure aspects of the physical and biological characteristics of the animals’ environment. As marine ecosystems are less accessible than terrestrial ones and marine animals more elusive and difficult to study, data collected by tags attached to marine animals often have to be relayed via satellite. However, satellite availability is not continuous and decreases with decreasing latitude. Consequently, collection of sufficient data is even more challenging in the tropics and mid-latitudes than at the poles. To overcome this limitation and increase data throughput from biologgers, new land-based receiving stations (called Motes) that can receive, log and relay messages from devices transmitting on the Argos satellite frequency have been developed.

    Methods: We investigated the performance of Motes as enhancers of recovery of signals transmitted by tags normally destined for satellite relay. We quantified Mote reception range, coverage area, data throughput and data corruption rates and examined factors that might impact these parameters. To do so, we used all signals detected by two arrays of Motes installed in the Hawaiian Islands and in Southern California between latitudes 22 and 33°N. Second, using data from 12 sharks and 12 whales tagged near the two Mote arrays, we assessed how increased data recovery translated into improved ability to interpret the behavior of the tagged animals.

    Results: Motes were capable of receiving up to 100% of messages transmitted within their reception range and overall presented a ~three- to fivefold increase in data message recovery compared to satellites alone. Message reception performance of Motes depended on their coverage area which in turn was affected by station elevation, the presence or not of obstacles within their line of sight, and the directionality of antennas.

    Conclusions: The increased quantity of data enabled improved biological interpretation of the animals studied. As such, Motes can improve our knowledge of marine animals’ ecology in relation to their physical and biological environments. Large-scale Mote arrays could potentially facilitate collaborative multi-disciplinary research projects, resulting in better ecosystem conservation and management.

  • Source:
    Anim Biotelemetry 5, 17
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  • Rights Information:
    CC BY
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