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Monday, January 29 • 1:40pm - 2:00pm
TOOLS & TECHNOLOGY: WILDLIFE HABITAT: Telemetry Drones and GPS Collars: What Your Engineering Department Can Do for You

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AUTHORS. Paul Keenlance, Grand Valley State University Biology Department; Bruce Dunne, Grand Valley State University School of Engineering; Jeffrey Ward, Grand Valley State University School of Engineering

ABSTRACT. Technology is advancing at a pace unprecedented in human history, proving benefits both in personal life and in our profession. These advances in technology provide the potential for researchers to more effectively gather data to inform management. Unfortunately, incorporating new technology into research programs can be both expensive and intimidating to many wildlife biologists who lack a deep understanding of technological principles and process. Fortunately, much wildlife research is conducted by faculty at universities housing engineering programs or by resource management agencies in collaboration with these universities. We will use the results of two collaborations between the biology department and the school of engineering at Grand Valley State University as case studies illustrating the potential synergy of combining expertise and resources in developing research tools.  The first of these is an unmanned aerial vehicle designed to locate radio collared animals with which contact has been lost when using a handheld yagi antenna. This unit provides a roughly threefold increase in the detection range of a radio collar compared to a handheld three element yagi. Cost of this unit was roughly $5000 including spare parts. The second product is a programable 120 gram remote download GPS collar with a 150 meter data download range. Fix interval can be set based on research objectives, but field trials were conducted with a 4 hour fix rate which resulted in a minimum 6 month battery life. Batteries are replaceable by the user if the collar is retrieved. The prototype of this unit cost $450. We hope these examples will encourage wildlife biologists to explore possibilities for collaborating with local engineering departments. These collaborations can provide cost effective options for developing technology based tools to aid in more effectively collecting data to inform management decisions.

Monday January 29, 2018 1:40pm - 2:00pm CST