• Assessment and validation of miniaturized technology for the remote tracking of critically endangered Galápagos pink land iguana (Conolophus marthae)

      Loreti, Pierpaolo; Bracciale, Lorenzo; Colosimo, Giuliano; Vera, Carlos; Gerber, Glenn P.; De Luca, Massimiliano; Gentile, Gabriele (2020)
      Background: Gathering ecological data for species of conservation concern inhabiting remote regions can be daunting and, sometimes, logistically infeasible. We built a custom-made GPS tracking device that allows to remotely and accurately collect animal position, environmental, and ecological data, including animal temperature and UVB radiation. We designed the device to track the critically endangered Galápagos pink land iguana, Conolophus marthae. Here we illustrate some technical solutions adopted to respond to challenges associated with such task and present some preliminary results from controlled trial experiments and feld implementation. Results: Our tests show that estimates of temperature and UVB radiation are affected by the design of our device, in particular by its casing. The introduced bias, though, is systematic and can be corrected using linear and quadratic regressions on collected values. Our data show that GPS accuracy loss, although introduced by vegetation and orientation of the devices when attached to the animals, is acceptable, leading to an average error gap of less than 15 m in more than 50% of the cases. Conclusions: We address some technical challenges related to the design, construction, and operation of a custom made GPS tracking device to collect data on animals in the wild. Systematic bias introduced by the technological implementation of the device exists. Understanding the nature of the bias is crucial to provide correction models. Although designed to track land iguanas, our device could be used in other circumstances and is particularly useful to track organisms inhabiting locations that are diffcult to reach or for which classic telemetry approaches are unattainable.