Differential Global Positioning System technology can provide series of accurate locations of free-ranging animals with a short, fixed interval. The sum of straight-line distances between valid locations (y) plotted against number of attempted fixes per day (x) should fit a hyperbolic function (i.e., y = x/[ax − b]) after removing inaccurate fixes and inactive periods. Its asymptotic value (1/a) can provide an estimate of real travel distance. The ratio of 1/a and y is a correction factor to apply to perceived straight-line distance to estimate real distance traveled. We achieved a good model fit on free-ranging adult red deer (Cervus elaphus) from data obtained every 15 min for a male and a female in winter 1997–1998, with a narrow range of correction factors. To validate this model, we used independent datasets from 3 other adult red deer roaming in the same area in winter 2000. We applied the procedure to distances perceived with fixed intervals ranging from 30 to 240 min and found consistent results in estimated real distances. Application of various steps of this analytical method could further development of a general approach to assess real distance traveled by individuals, thus offering new ways of studying habitat use or energetic requirements.
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