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Performance of a LORAN-C Based Automated Animal Telemetry System

Bruce K. Johnson, Scott L. Findholt, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, La Grande, OR 97850 USA, Alan A. Ager, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pendleton, OR 97801 USA, Michael J. Wisdom, and John G. Kie, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, La Grande, OR 97850 USA

Automated animal telemetry systems allow for intensive and systematic collection of animal locations. Accuracy and probability of obtaining a good location (observation rate) of any automated animal telemetry system (AATS) needs to be determined before telemetry locations can be linked to habitat databases for analysis of habitat use. At the Starkey Experimental Forest and Range in northeast Oregon, a LORAN-C based AATS is employed to obtain locations of elk, mule deer, and cattle. We evaluated the accuracy of this system and detected position biases up to 200 m. After correcting for position bias, we are 90% and 50% confident that a location is within 3.1 and 0.8 ha, respectively. We detected spatial variation in observation rate from stationary telemetry units (collars). We devised a method to estimate observation rate at various spatial scales using animal location data collected over 4 years (1992-1995; n = 907,156 location attempts). Random variation accounted for 47 to 53% and spatial variation accounted for 38 - 45% of the variation in observation rate. Given the accuracy and observation rate characteristics, the AATS deployed at the Starkey Experimental Forest and Range is well-suited for analyzing landscape-scale distribution and habitat use patterns of elk, mule deer, and cattle.

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