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Using Hand-Held Pen Computers in the Collection and Analysis of Radiotelemetry Data

Bruce MacWhirter, Tima Scientific Inc., P.O. Box 332, 65 Lorne Street, Sackville, New Brunswick E0A 3C0 Canada

Historically, radiotelemetry data have been recorded using pen and paper or expensive, weighty, and highly proprietary data loggers. The virtues of using such data loggers are diminished further because they rely on key-code data entry and, typically, they do not afford scientists a means of digitally recording additional data (e.g., habitat, weather, animal behavior) relevant to the radio-tracking study. With the advent of relatively inexpensive, lightweight, and powerful hand-held pen computers, which do not require keystrokes to enter data, there is a means by which the shortcomings of conventional data loggers can be surmounted. The pen computer is an ideal platform for efficient data acquisition because complex data can be recorded accurately and rapidly by tapping the computer's pressure-sensitive screen using a stylus (pen). Tima Scientific, Inc. introduces Tag & Track™, a truly portable radio-tracking database and data analysis software application that runs on any hand-held computer running the Newton Operating System 2.0 or higher. Newton hand-held computers offer the highest functionality-to-cost ratio among all hand-held computers, and are well suited to the recording of animal location and associated data. Data are transferred directly from the telemetry receiver to the pen computer via the Newton's serial port, and additional data associated with a given time and animal location are recorded by tapping or writing on the computer's screen. Among other functions, Tag & Track's Data Analysis Module quickly and easily converts between lat-long and UTM locations, determines the distance between two positions, permits you to sort and analyze data according to your variables of interest, does home range analyses, and executes triangulation routines. Radiotelemetry database and data analysis reports are easily exported to a Windows or MacOS-based desktop computer.

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