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Satellite telemetry

Satellite telemetry technology allows any mobile object equipped with a compatible transmitter to be located across the world. It also offers the possibility of collecting different types of data from measurement sensors connected to this transmitter.

To space and back

Female marsh herrier
Photo: Raymond Klaassen
The transmitter is programmed to send signals to satellites orbiting above the earth at certain intervals, and the satellites pick up and store the signals. The stored signals are then relayed back to earth via antennas spread over the globe, to end up at processing centers where the data is processed and made available to the users. Here, a female Marsh Harrier fitted with a satellite transmitter. Due to the solar panel on this particular transmitter, the battery is re-charged during the day, which allows us to follow individual birds for several years. The current record is five years.

Detailed information

Migration routes

The satellite telemetry enables us to get very detailed data. In one of our long-term studies on Osprey and Marsh harrier migration we have obtained positions every hour in three dimensions with 10-20 m accuracy during the birds’ repeated journeys between Sweden and Africa. With this data, course changes during days could be analysed in relation to different possible compass mechanisms as well as to wind, landscape and possible goal areas and landmarks from preceding journeys.

Different types of data

Migration turtle
Photo: Paolo Luschi.

Depending on what observations we are interested in, the transmitters can be equipped with different kinds of sensors, enabling the collection of data not only on position information, but also on for example animal heart rates, atmospheric pressure and sea temperatures. As the transmitters so far are fairly big, they can only be fitted on animals of a certain size, like the Ascension green turtle (Chelonia myda) in one of our displacement experiments in Southern Atlantic Ocean.

Page Manager:

Centre for Animal Movement Research
Evolutionary Ecology, Department of Biology
Ecology building S-223 62 Lund Sweden