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Evaluation of a GPS Used in Conjunction with Aerial Telemetry

Edward M. Olexa and Peter J. P. Gogan, U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, Greater Yellowstone Research Group, Department of Biology, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717 USA

We investigated the use of a Global Positioning System (GPS) in association with aerial telemetry to determine location coordinates. Sources of error were identified and quantified. Directional bias was also assessed. Initial trials suggest GPS is an efficient alternative to the usual method of position determination by means of interpolation from topographic maps. This method also provides increased accuracy over LORAN-C and Argos satellite telemetry and can be used in areas where animal-borne GPS receivers are not effective due to topography or canopy coverage. The suitability of GPS technology will depend on the accuracy requirements of specific users. While GPS technology will not provide the precision required for high resolution telemetry data, it is ideal for efficient identification of gross movement patterns and coarse habitat use over large areas.

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