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      From Sensor Data to Animal Behaviour: An Oystercatcher Example

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          Abstract

          Animal-borne sensors enable researchers to remotely track animals, their physiological state and body movements. Accelerometers, for example, have been used in several studies to measure body movement, posture, and energy expenditure, although predominantly in marine animals. In many studies, behaviour is often inferred from expert interpretation of sensor data and not validated with direct observations of the animal. The aim of this study was to derive models that could be used to classify oystercatcher ( Haematopus ostralegus) behaviour based on sensor data. We measured the location, speed, and tri-axial acceleration of three oystercatchers using a flexible GPS tracking system and conducted simultaneous visual observations of the behaviour of these birds in their natural environment. We then used these data to develop three supervised classification trees of behaviour and finally applied one of the models to calculate time-activity budgets. The model based on accelerometer data developed to classify three behaviours (fly, terrestrial locomotion, and no movement) was much more accurate (cross-validation error = 0.14) than the model based on GPS-speed alone (cross-validation error = 0.35). The most parsimonious acceleration model designed to classify eight behaviours could distinguish five: fly, forage, body care, stand, and sit (cross-validation error = 0.28); other behaviours that were observed, such as aggression or handling of prey, could not be distinguished. Model limitations and potential improvements are discussed. The workflow design presented in this study can facilitate model development, be adapted to a wide range of species, and together with the appropriate measurements, can foster the study of behaviour and habitat use of free living animals throughout their annual routine.

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          Biotelemetry: a mechanistic approach to ecology.

          Remote measurement of the physiology, behaviour and energetic status of free-living animals is made possible by a variety of techniques that we refer to collectively as 'biotelemetry'. This set of tools ranges from transmitters that send their signals to receivers up to a few kilometers away to those that send data to orbiting satellites and, more frequently, to devices that log data. They enable researchers to document, for long uninterrupted periods, how undisturbed organisms interact with each other and their environment in real time. In spite of advances enabling the monitoring of many physiological and behavioural variables across a range of taxa of various sizes, these devices have yet to be embraced widely by the ecological community. Our review suggests that this technology has immense potential for research in basic and applied animal ecology. Efforts to incorporate biotelemetry into broader ecological research programs should yield novel information that has been challenging to collect historically from free-ranging animals in their natural environments. Examples of research that would benefit from biotelemetry include the assessment of animal responses to different anthropogenic perturbations and the development of life-time energy budgets.
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            Moving towards acceleration for estimates of activity-specific metabolic rate in free-living animals: the case of the cormorant.

            1. Time and energy are key currencies in animal ecology, and judicious management of these is a primary focus for natural selection. At present, however, there are only two main methods for estimation of rate of energy expenditure in the field, heart rate and doubly labelled water, both of which have been used with success; but both also have their limitations. 2. The deployment of data loggers that measure acceleration is emerging as a powerful tool for quantifying the behaviour of free-living animals. Given that animal movement requires the use of energy, the accelerometry technique potentially has application in the quantification of rate of energy expenditure during activity. 3. In the present study, we test the hypothesis that acceleration can serve as a proxy for rate of energy expenditure in free-living animals. We measured rate of energy expenditure as rates of O2 consumption (VO2) and CO2 production (VCO2) in great cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo) at rest and during pedestrian exercise. VO2 and VCO2 were then related to overall dynamic body acceleration (ODBA) measured with an externally attached three-axis accelerometer. 4. Both VO2 and VCO2 were significantly positively associated with ODBA in great cormorants. This suggests that accelerometric measurements of ODBA can be used to estimate VO2 and VCO2 and, with some additional assumptions regarding metabolic substrate use and the energy equivalence of O2 and CO2, that ODBA can be used to estimate the activity specific rate of energy expenditure of free-living cormorants. 5. To verify that the approach identifies expected trends in from situations with variable power requirements, we measured ODBA in free-living imperial cormorants (Phalacrocorax atriceps) during foraging trips. We compared ODBA during return and outward foraging flights, when birds are expected to be laden and not laden with captured fish, respectively. We also examined changes in ODBA during the descent phase of diving, when power requirements are predicted to decrease with depth due to changes in buoyancy associated with compression of plumage and respiratory air. 6. In free-living imperial cormorants, ODBA, and hence estimated VO2, was higher during the return flight of a foraging bout, and decreased with depth during the descent phase of a dive, supporting the use of accelerometry for the determination of activity-specific rate of energy expenditure.
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              New frontiers in biologging science.

              The term 'biologging' refers to the use of miniaturized animal-attached tags for logging and/or relaying of data about an animal's movements, behaviour, physiology and/or environment. Biologging technology substantially extends our abilities to observe, and take measurements from, free-ranging, undisturbed subjects, providing much scope for advancing both basic and applied biological research. Here, we review highlights from the third international conference on biologging science, which was held in California, USA, from 1 to 5 September 2008. Over the last few years, considerable progress has been made with a range of recording technologies as well as with the management, visualization, integration and analysis of increasingly large and complex biologging datasets. Researchers use these techniques to study animal biology with an unprecedented level of detail and across the full range of ecological scales-from the split-second decision making of individuals to the long-term dynamics of populations, and even entire communities. We conclude our report by suggesting some directions for future research.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                1932-6203
                2012
                31 May 2012
                : 7
                : 5
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Computational Geo-Ecology, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
                [2 ]Department of Marine Ecology and Evolution, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), AB Den Burg, Texel, The Netherlands
                [3 ]SOVON Dutch Centre for Field Ornithology, Coastal Ecology Team, AB Den Burg, Texel, The Netherlands
                Cajal Institute - Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Spain
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: JSB RB EEvL BE KO WB. Performed the experiments: RB KO. Analyzed the data: RB EEvL JSB. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: EEvL JSB RB WB. Wrote the paper: JSB RB EEvL BE WB.

                Article
                PONE-D-12-00955
                10.1371/journal.pone.0037997
                3365100
                22693586
                5e41f859-b5b2-4326-8f54-0b86b2306fed
                Shamoun-Baranes et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                Page count
                Pages: 13
                Categories
                Research Article
                Biology
                Computational Biology
                Biological Data Management
                Ecology
                Ecological Environments
                Marine Environments
                Terrestrial Environments
                Behavioral Ecology
                Zoology
                Animal Behavior
                Ornithology
                Computer Science
                Computer Modeling
                Information Technology
                Databases

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                Uncategorized

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