ESR 10:47-60 (2008)  -  doi:10.3354/esr00084

Identification of animal movement patterns using tri-axial accelerometry

Emily L. C. Shepard1,*, Rory P. Wilson1, Flavio Quintana2, 3, Agustina Gómez Laich3, Nikolai Liebsch1, Diego A. Albareda4, Lewis G. Halsey5, Adrian Gleiss1, David T. Morgan1, Andrew E. Myers6, Chris Newman7, David W. Macdonald7

1Biological Sciences, Institute of Environmental Sustainability, Swansea University, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK
2Centro Nacional Patagónico (CENPAT)-CONICET, (9120) Puerto Madryn, Chubut, Argentina
3Wildlife Conservation Society, 2300 Southern Boulevard, New York, New York 10460, USA
4Buenos Aires Zoo, Av. Sarmiento and Av. The Heras, Buenos Aires, Argentina
5School of Human and Life Sciences, Roehampton University, London SW15 4JD, UK
6Large Pelagics Research Laboratory, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire 03824, USA
7Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, University of Oxford, Tubney House, Abingdon OX13 5QL, UK

ABSTRACT: An animal's behaviour is a response to its environment and physiological condition, and as such, gives vital clues as to its well-being, which is highly relevant in conservation issues. Behaviour can generally be typified by body motion and body posture, parameters that are both measurable using animal-attached accelerometers. Interpretation of acceleration data, however, can be complex, as the static (indicative of posture) and dynamic (motion) components are derived from the total acceleration values, which should ideally be recorded in all 3-dimensional axes. The principles of triaxial accelerometry are summarised and discussed in terms of the commonalities that arise in patterns of acceleration across species that vary in body pattern, life-history strategy, and the medium they inhabit. Using tri-axial acceleration data from deployments on captive and free-living animals (n = 12 species), behaviours were identified that varied in complexity, from the rhythmic patterns of locomotion, to feeding, and more variable patterns including those relating to social interactions. These data can be combined with positional information to qualify patterns of area-use and map the distribution of target behaviours. The range and distribution of behaviour may also provide insight into the transmission of disease. In this way, the measurement of tri-axial acceleration can provide insight into individual and population level processes, which may ultimately influence the effectiveness of conservation practice.

KEY WORDS: Acceleration · Archival tag · Satellite tracking · Biotelemetry · Time budget · Energy expenditure · Stroke frequency

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Cite this article as: Shepard ELC, Wilson RP, Quintana F, Gómez Laich A and others (2008) Identification of animal movement patterns using tri-axial accelerometry. Endang Species Res 10:47-60

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