Dead-reckoning animal movements in R: a reappraisal using Gundog.Tracks

Richard M. Gunner*, Mark D. Holton, Mike D. Scantlebury, O. Louis van Schalkwyk, Holly M. English, Hannah J. Williams, Phil Hopkins, Flavio Quintana, Agustina Gómez-Laich, Luca Börger, James Redcliffe, Ken Yoda, Takashi Yamamoto, Sam Ferreira, Danny Govender, Pauli Viljoen, Angela Bruns, Stephen H. Bell, Nikki J. Marks, Nigel C. BennettMariano H. Tonini, Carlos M. Duarte, Martin C. van Rooyen, Mads F. Bertelsen, Craig J. Tambling, Rory P. Wilson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
130 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background
Fine-scale data on animal position are increasingly enabling us to understand the details of animal movement ecology and dead-reckoning, a technique integrating motion sensor-derived information on heading and speed, can be used to reconstruct fine-scale movement paths at sub-second resolution, irrespective of the environment. On its own however, the dead-reckoning process is prone to cumulative errors, so that position estimates quickly become uncoupled from true location. Periodic ground-truthing with aligned location data (e.g., from global positioning technology) can correct for this drift between Verified Positions (VPs). We present step-by-step instructions for implementing Verified Position Correction (VPC) dead-reckoning in R using the tilt-compensated compass method, accompanied by the mathematical protocols underlying the code and improvements and extensions of this technique to reduce the trade-off between VPC rate and dead-reckoning accuracy. These protocols are all built into a user-friendly, fully annotated VPC dead-reckoning R function; Gundog.Tracks, with multi-functionality to reconstruct animal movement paths across terrestrial, aquatic, and aerial systems, provided within the Additional file 4 as well as online (GitHub).

Results
The Gundog.Tracks function is demonstrated on three contrasting model species (the African lion Panthera leo, the Magellanic penguin Spheniscus magellanicus, and the Imperial cormorant Leucocarbo atriceps) moving on land, in water and in air. We show the effect of uncorrected errors in speed estimations, heading inaccuracies and infrequent VPC rate and demonstrate how these issues can be addressed.

Conclusions
The function provided will allow anyone familiar with R to dead-reckon animal tracks readily and accurately, as the key complex issues are dealt with by Gundog.Tracks. This will help the community to consider and implement a valuable, but often overlooked method of reconstructing high-resolution animal movement paths across diverse species and systems without requiring a bespoke application
Original languageEnglish
Article number23
JournalAnimal Biotelemetry
Volume9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research contributes to the CAASE project funded by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) under the KAUST Sensor Initiative. Fieldwork in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park was supported in part by a Department for Economy Global Challenges Research Fund grant to MS. Fieldwork within the Chubut Province was supported in part by the National Agency for Scientific and Technological Promotion of Argentina (PICT 2017-1996 and PICT 2018-1480), and the Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (16K18617).

Funding Information:
We thank South African National and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Botswana, for allowing our research in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. We are grateful to support and kind assistance of the staff and Rangers at the Kgalagadi National Park who were involved with this work, especially Steven Smith, Christa von Elling, Wayne Oppel and Corera Links. Pertaining to the field work carried out in Argentina, we express our gratitude to Andrea Benvenuti, Fabian Gabelli, Monserrat Del Ca?o, La Chola, Miguel, Estancia El Pedral and Estancia San Lorenzo for assistance in various aspects of the research. We also thank the Instituto de Biolog?a de Organismos Marinos (IBIOMAR-CONICET) for logistical support. HME is funded by an Irish Research Council Government of Ireland postgraduate scholarship.

Funding Information:
We thank South African National and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Botswana, for allowing our research in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. We are grateful to support and kind assistance of the staff and Rangers at the Kgalagadi National Park who were involved with this work, especially Steven Smith, Christa von Elling, Wayne Oppel and Corera Links. Pertaining to the field work carried out in Argentina, we express our gratitude to Andrea Benvenuti, Fabian Gabelli, Monserrat Del Caño, La Chola, Miguel, Estancia El Pedral and Estancia San Lorenzo for assistance in various aspects of the research. We also thank the Instituto de Biología de Organismos Marinos (IBIOMAR-CONICET) for logistical support. HME is funded by an Irish Research Council Government of Ireland postgraduate scholarship.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

Keywords

  • Animal behaviour
  • Animal movement
  • Global Positioning System
  • R (programming language)
  • Track integration
  • Tri-axial accelerometers
  • Tri-axial magnetometers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Instrumentation
  • Computer Networks and Communications

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