Long range wireless devices for high-resolution monitoring of animal movement

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Environmental Sciences

Abstract

Tracking studies where individual animals are tracked individually is increasingly common due to new technologies becoming availability. The data collected from these studies enable researchers, consultants and conservation practitioners to better understand animal ecology, evolution and physiology. This data has many practical applications and societal benefits, for example it enables the identification of animal migratory routes, stopover sites and priority areas for conservation of migratory species, the monitoring livestock health and the detection of livestock diseases).

Long range (LoRa) remote download devices can collect information remotely with minimum supervision and send the information via wireless communication. This technology is an exciting development of low power, long-range wireless transmissions which has been used in urban settings to control a range of sensors in buildings and vehicles (smart buildings, smart cities and vehicle tracking) but has yet to be used to track animal movement and behaviour. Due to its low-weight and low-cost this technology can revolutionize the study of animal movements.

This proof-of-concept aims use the new Long Range LoRa remote download technology to create low-weight and low-cost GPS tracking devices that can be safely deployed on animals. We aim to demonstrate that a solution originally conceived for the Internet of Things (IoT) can be used to track animal movement. This solution will be especially attractive for projects located in remote locations where the GSM network is not available and the use of satellite devices is constrained due to its high cost. Our project will develop solar-powered solutions that will include a variety of on-board sensors (accelerometer, temperature, barometer) which can be used to monitor environmental variables and animal behaviour parameters. All components of the tracking device (PCB module, battery, solar cell and harvester, housing) will be tested separately and the feasibility and capabilities of the assembled prototypes will be assessed.

Planned Impact

The demand for smaller and lighter tracking devices is considerable. The lightest GPS/GSM devices on the market are 17g. Lighter GPS devices are available but require re-capturing the animals to retrieve the information on the tag and, often, this is difficult or impossible. Satellite tags are light-weight but require projects with generous budgets as they cost >£2,500 each + monthly data costs. If validated, the low-cost low-weight long range devices that will be developed in this proof-of-concept project will be very attractive as they will be in the order of £300-500 each.

Our long-term vision is that the research community working on animal movement projects will benefit from the Internet of Things (IoT). This network of physical objects, devices, vehicles, buildings and other items which are embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, enables these objects to collect and exchange data. The IoT is becoming more common and our project aims to create animal tracking devices that will be part of the IoT, enabling researchers to take advantage of existing network grids, used for other purposes, to track animal movement. If our devices can be safely deployed on wildlife it will be possible to track animal moment and migration with high spatial and temporal resolution.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We have developed a new product to be used for tracking animals in remote locations where GSM coverage is not available. The Long Range tracking devices work and we have the data being transmitted to our server. The devices work in conjunction with GSM technology or InMarSat, hence we can have global coverage and data transmission with these new tracking devices. We have produced prototypes and received extra funding from the BTO to complete this project by the end of March 2018. Our devices have now been used to track Boulders in Nepal and birds in the UK and Portugal.
The project in Nepal now plans to develop an alert system for disaster prevention (landslide warnings) in Nepal.
Exploitation Route The devices are not yet available to the wider community. Our aim is to create a lighter weight tracking device that will be used for tracking smaller wildlife and this will facilitate management of species, conservation and research. The Earth Sciences application is under development and if fully demonstrated this could become a commercial product for disaster prevention.
Sectors Education,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

URL http://movetech-telemetry.com
 
Description We have designed and produced a new Long-Range wireless tracking device. This is a low power solution, the tracking devices are small and there is a gateway to receive information form the devices. We have developed a new server and all the data received is accessible in the server. We have tested several solar cells and devices from two different companies. We now have identified the lowest weight device that provides the quality of the data required and we are in the process of producing the prototypes. These devices will be added to the portfolio of devices offered by Movetech telemetry, www.movetech-telemetry.com The first field test for these devices was done in Nepal part of another NERC grant- Shear Catalyst project BOULDER. This project has been very successful and the PI- Georgina Bennett is engaging with stakeholders to create an alert system for disaster prevention in Nepal.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Electronics,Environment
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description British Trust for Ornithology research support funding
Amount £11,000 (GBP)
Organisation British Trust for Ornithology 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 03/2018
 
Description Foundation for Science and Technology standard grant
Amount € 238,000 (EUR)
Organisation Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (Portugal) 
Sector Academic/University
Country Portugal
Start 06/2018 
End 05/2021
 
Description NEXUSS CDT PhD studentship GPU-Accelerated 3D Visualisation and Analysis of Migratory Behaviour of Long Lived Birds
Amount £54,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 1942135 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 09/2020
 
Description NEXUSS CDT PhD studentship Improving detection and estimation of birds' collision risk with energy infrastructure
Amount £54,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 2105436 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2018 
End 09/2021
 
Description NEXUSS CDT PhD studentship The environmental determinants of dispersal and migratory behaviour of long lived birds
Amount £54,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 1942320 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 12/2021
 
Description Proof of Concept
Amount £10,000 (GBP)
Organisation Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2018 
End 07/2018
 
Title Tracking devices 
Description The Movetech telemetry group now produced new tracking devices that are being used to track wild animals and these devices have now been used on 29 species. The long range wireless devices have also been used to track Boulders in Nepal and have tracked the movement of the Boulders during the monsoon season. 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact These devices have now contributed to generate 4 publications and the data has been used to help manage and conserve wildlife 
URL http://www.movetech-telemetry.com
 
Description BIRDS ON THE MOVE: adaptive migratory behaviour in response to global environmental change 
Organisation University of Lisbon
Country Portugal 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This is a collaboration I have with a colleague in Portugal. My colleague has an Research fellowship and has recently managed to obtain funding (€237,903.54) from the Foundation for Science and Technology in Portugal for the project BIRDS ON THE MOVE: adaptive migratory behaviour in response to global environmental change" in which I am a co-Investigator. The project will enable new research to be done and new tracking devices to be bought.
Collaborator Contribution My partner will help supervise PhD students will contribute with her time training the students in the field. Shewill also help deploying tracking devices on birds and collecting and analysing the data generated.
Impact Peer-review publications, presentations and posters at conferences.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Movetech project 
Organisation British Trust for Ornithology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We are developing new low-cost light-weight solar GPS/GSM loggers that can be used to track wildlife. At the moment the lightest on the market is 17g and we are testing a 12g device. This project started by the need to obtain high spatial and temporal resolution location data for our study species. We have now developed a solution that delivers the quantity and quality of the data required but we are pursuing the development of lower weight devices that can be used on a larger number of species. I coordinate the project, arrange meetings, coordinate the work that is being developed, coordinate the tests of all the components, the colleague from Portugal is responsible for the software development and testing and the colleague from the BTO is responsible for the hardware solutions and integration of all the components, he is also coordinating the development of new solutions.
Collaborator Contribution We discuss new ideas, final products that need to be developed and components that we want to test. We discuss the development of software and the features that need to be included. This is a joint project we are all heavily involved and discuss all stages of the project. We have our areas of expertise, my colleague fron the BTO is responsible for the financial aspects of the project and my colleague from the University of Lisbon is responsible for the testing of the new software developed.
Impact 1- New settings for power management and geofencing; 2- New PCB module (3.8g) which has enabled us to produce a 12g tracking device; 3- New light weight solar cell identified for new light weight Movetech Telemetry device; 4- New harvester developed enabling an effective management of the battery preventing undercharging and overcharging; 5- Consolidation of solutions for the larger devices, the Movetech Telemetry group can now produce a range of devices: 12g, 20g, 25g, 30g 50g and a goose collar; 6- New website for the Movetech Telemetry group finalized bin March 2017 and press release advertising at UEA, BTO and in Portugal.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Movetech project 
Organisation University of Lisbon
Country Portugal 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We are developing new low-cost light-weight solar GPS/GSM loggers that can be used to track wildlife. At the moment the lightest on the market is 17g and we are testing a 12g device. This project started by the need to obtain high spatial and temporal resolution location data for our study species. We have now developed a solution that delivers the quantity and quality of the data required but we are pursuing the development of lower weight devices that can be used on a larger number of species. I coordinate the project, arrange meetings, coordinate the work that is being developed, coordinate the tests of all the components, the colleague from Portugal is responsible for the software development and testing and the colleague from the BTO is responsible for the hardware solutions and integration of all the components, he is also coordinating the development of new solutions.
Collaborator Contribution We discuss new ideas, final products that need to be developed and components that we want to test. We discuss the development of software and the features that need to be included. This is a joint project we are all heavily involved and discuss all stages of the project. We have our areas of expertise, my colleague fron the BTO is responsible for the financial aspects of the project and my colleague from the University of Lisbon is responsible for the testing of the new software developed.
Impact 1- New settings for power management and geofencing; 2- New PCB module (3.8g) which has enabled us to produce a 12g tracking device; 3- New light weight solar cell identified for new light weight Movetech Telemetry device; 4- New harvester developed enabling an effective management of the battery preventing undercharging and overcharging; 5- Consolidation of solutions for the larger devices, the Movetech Telemetry group can now produce a range of devices: 12g, 20g, 25g, 30g 50g and a goose collar; 6- New website for the Movetech Telemetry group finalized bin March 2017 and press release advertising at UEA, BTO and in Portugal.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Movetech project 
Organisation University of Porto
Country Portugal 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We are developing new low-cost light-weight solar GPS/GSM loggers that can be used to track wildlife. At the moment the lightest on the market is 17g and we are testing a 12g device. This project started by the need to obtain high spatial and temporal resolution location data for our study species. We have now developed a solution that delivers the quantity and quality of the data required but we are pursuing the development of lower weight devices that can be used on a larger number of species. I coordinate the project, arrange meetings, coordinate the work that is being developed, coordinate the tests of all the components, the colleague from Portugal is responsible for the software development and testing and the colleague from the BTO is responsible for the hardware solutions and integration of all the components, he is also coordinating the development of new solutions.
Collaborator Contribution We discuss new ideas, final products that need to be developed and components that we want to test. We discuss the development of software and the features that need to be included. This is a joint project we are all heavily involved and discuss all stages of the project. We have our areas of expertise, my colleague fron the BTO is responsible for the financial aspects of the project and my colleague from the University of Lisbon is responsible for the testing of the new software developed.
Impact 1- New settings for power management and geofencing; 2- New PCB module (3.8g) which has enabled us to produce a 12g tracking device; 3- New light weight solar cell identified for new light weight Movetech Telemetry device; 4- New harvester developed enabling an effective management of the battery preventing undercharging and overcharging; 5- Consolidation of solutions for the larger devices, the Movetech Telemetry group can now produce a range of devices: 12g, 20g, 25g, 30g 50g and a goose collar; 6- New website for the Movetech Telemetry group finalized bin March 2017 and press release advertising at UEA, BTO and in Portugal.
Start Year 2013
 
Title Tracking devices 
Description The Movetech telemetry group developed new GPS/GSM tracking devices that have a specific and versatile software that enables remote tracking and download of animal movement data. We now have developed solutions using Long Range wireless technology that have been tested on birds and will be tested on mammals during 2020. 
Type Of Technology Physical Model/Kit 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact These devices generated data that was included in 8 publications and the devices have now been used in 29 species all over the world. The data generated by the devices has been used for management and conservation of wildlife. 
URL http://www.movetech-telemetry.com
 
Description EGU Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A poster was presented at the EGU meeting 2019
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Invited speaker at RPSB seminar series 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was an invited speaker to talk about tracking devices and the research results from the use of the tracking devices.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.movetech-telemetry.com
 
Description TIBE 2017 Bio-Logging 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was an invited speaker at the symposium and talked about the features and characteristics of the new tracking devices the Movetech group, which I co-ordinate, is developing.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.movetech-telemetry.com