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Animal tracking across borders

- Automated Radio Telemetry in Europe

Radio telemetry and automated radio telemetry.

Traditional radio telemetry allows researchers to track or estimate the position of animals carrying a radio tag. The tags transmit a radio signal on a pre-defined frequency that can be detected by handheld or permanent antenna. Tags vary greatly in size, but this is determined by the battery size and duration. The smallest tags, which can be used with songbirds and even insects, usually have a maximum battery life of several weeks, however, this can be affected by altering the burst rate of the transmitter. In automated radio telemetry, all tags operate on the same frequency and transmit a coded identification signal to enable multiple tags and therefore animals to be tracked simultaneously. Signals are received by permanent or fixed antenna arrays and coded tags are the same size as conventional tags.

A European Network and MOTUS

Many current studies focus on highly mobile species such as migratory birds and bats. As even the smallest tags are functional for almost 1 month, it is conceivable that it can be detected far from the antenna arrays at the study site. With coded tags all operating on the same frequency, tags could be detected by any receiver station, adding valuable information to our understanding of animal movement.

In the first instance this working group aims to enable information sharing between researchers with the goals of operating on a shared frequency in the near future. In North and Central America researchers are operating with the same frequency as a part of the MOTUS cooperation [] and it is hoped that in Europe we will transition to MOTUS for data processing and cooperation. With coordination and cross-boundary cooperation many of the challenges of operating over many nations can be addressed and we can work towards a physical network of receiver coverage across the flyway.

Further information

If you are currently using, or planning a project using automated radio telemetry, please get in touch and join our network or researchers. RadioTelemetryEurope [at] gmail [dot] com

For more information regarding equipment, please contact manufacturers directly.

Falsterbo lighthouse

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Further information

flying birds
Photo: Björn Malmhagen

If you are currently using, or planning a project using automated radio telemetry, please get in touch and join our network or researchers:
RadioTelemetryEurope [at] gmail [dot] com

Useful links

Robin with radio sender
Photo: Aron Hejdström



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