The success of GPS collar deployments on mammals in Australia
Alison Matthews A,S, Laura Ruykys B, Bill Ellis C, Sean FitzGibbon C, Daniel Lunney D, Mathew S. CrowtherE, Alistair S. GlenF, Brad PurcellG, Katherine Moseby B,H, Jenny StottH, Don FletcherI, Claire WimpennyI, Benjamin L. AllenJ, Linda Van BommelK, Michael RobertsL, Nicole DaviesC, Ken GreenM, Thomas Newsome E, Guy BallardN, Peter FlemingO, Christopher R. DickmanE, Achim EberhartP, Shannon TroyQ, Clive McMahonR and Natasha WigginsK
AInstitute for Land, Water and Society, School of Environmental Sciences, Charles Sturt University, PO Box 789, Albury, NSW 2640, Australia.
BUniversity of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.
CUniversity of Queensland, St Lucia, Qld 4072, Australia.
DBiodiversity Conservation Science Section, Scientific Services, Office of Environment and Heritage, Department of Premier and Cabinet, Hurstville, NSW 2220, Australia.
ESchool of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.
FWA Department of Environment and Conservation, and Invasive Animals CRC, Dwellingup, WA 6213, Australia.
GUniversity of Western Sydney, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia.
HArid Recovery, Roxby Downs, SA 5725, Australia.
IACT Land Management and Planning, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.
JUniversity of Queensland, Gatton, Qld 4343, Australia.
KUniversity of Tasmania, Hobart, Tas. 7001, Australia.
LMacquarie University, North Ryde, NSW 2109, Australia.
MNational Parks and Wildlife Service, Jindabyne, NSW 2627, Australia.
NVertebrate Pest Research Unit, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.
OVertebrate Pest Research Unit, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Orange, NSW 2800, Australia.
PUniversity of Melbourne, Melbourne, Vic. 3010, Australia.
QUniversity of Tasmania, School of Zoology, and CRC Forestry, Hobart, Tas. 7001, Australia.
RCharles Darwin University, Darwin, NT 0909, Australia.
SCorresponding author. Email:
Global Positioning System (GPS) wildlife telemetry collars are being used increasingly to understand the movement patterns of wild mammals. However, there are few published studies on which to gauge their general utility and success. This paper highlights issues faced by some of thefirst researchers to use GPS technology for terrestrial mammal tracking in Australia. Our collated data cover 24 studies where GPS collars were used in 280 deployments on 13 species, including dingoes or other wild dogs (Canis lupus dingo and hybrids), cats (Felis catus), foxes (Vulpes vulpes), kangaroos (Macropus giganteus), koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus), livestock guardian dogs (C. l. familiaris), pademelons (Thylogale billardierii), possums (Trichosurus cunninghami), quolls (Dasyurus geoffroii and D. maculatus), wallabies (Macropus rufogriseus and Petrogale lateralis), and wombats (Vombatus ursinus). Common problems encountered were associated with collar design, the GPS, VHF and timed-release components, and unforseen costs in retrieving and refurbishing collars. We discuss the implications of collar failures for research programs and animal welfare, and suggest how these could be avoided or improved. Our intention is to provide constructive advice so that researchers and manufacturers can make informed decisions about using this technology, and maximise the many benefits of GPS while reducing the risks.