Review of GPS collar deployments and performance on nonhuman primates


Over the past 20 years, GPS collars have emerged as powerful tools for the study of nonhuman primate (hereafter, “primate”) movement ecology. As the size and cost of GPS collars have decreased and performance has improved, it is timely to review the use and success of GPS collar deployments on primates to date. Here we compile data on deployments and performance of GPS collars by brand and examine how these relate to characteristics of the primate species and field contexts in which they were deployed. The compiled results of 179 GPS collar deployments across 17 species by 16 research teams show these technologies can provide advantages, particularly in adding to the quality, quantity, and temporal span of data collection. However, aspects of this technology still require substantial improvement in order to make deployment on many primate species pragmatic economically. In particular, current limitations regarding battery lifespan relative to collar weight, the efficacy of remote drop-off mechanisms, and the ability to remotely retrieve data need to be addressed before the technology is likely to be widely adopted. Moreover, despite the increasing utility of GPS collars in the field, they remain substantially more expensive than VHF collars and tracking via handheld GPS units, and cost considerations of GPS collars may limit sample sizes and thereby the strength of inferences. Still, the overall high quality and quantity of data obtained, combined with the reduced need for on-the-ground tracking by field personnel, may help defray the high equipment cost. We argue that primatologists armed with the information in this review have much to gain from the recent, substantial improvements in GPS collar technology.


Dore, K. M., Hansen, M. F., Klegarth, A. R., Fichtel, C. Koch, F., Springer, A., Kappeler, P., Parga, J. A., Humle, T., Colin, C. Raballand, C., Huang, Z., Qi, X., Di Fiore, A., Link, A., Stevenson, P. R., Stark, D, J., Tan, N., Gallagher, C, A., Jane Anderson, C., Campbell, J. C., Kenyon, M., Pebsworth, P., Sprague, D., Jones-Engel J., & Fuentes, A. 2020. Review of GPS collar deployments and performance on nonhuman primates. Primates. 61. 373–387.

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