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1 September 2005 Influence of topography and GPS fix interval on GPS collar performance
James W. Cain, Paul R. Krausman, Brian D. Jansen, John R. Morgart
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Topography, vegetation, and animal behavior may influence the performance of Global Positioning System (GPS) telemetry collars, affecting fix success rates and location error. We reviewed the scientific literature published from 1995 to June 2004 to determine the fix intervals used and fix success rates obtained in studies using GPS telemetry. We also programmed GPS telemetry collars with 6 different fix intervals and placed them at fixed locations of varying topography in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona from August 2003–May 2004. Fix interval affected fix success rates both in our field study (99, 98, 96, 94, 93, 92% fix success rate for 0.25, 0.5, 1, 4, 6, and 13-hour fix intervals, respectively) and in our analysis of data obtained from scientific literature (r2=0.531, P≤0.001), with shorter fix intervals being associated with higher fix success rates. Topography affected the fix success rate (F2, 77=12.017, P≤0.001), location error (F2, 77=6.76, P=0.002), and proportion of 3-dimensional (3-D) fixes (F2,77=10.184, P≤0.001), resulting in lower fix success rates and larger location errors in areas with more rugged topography. The influence of topography and fix interval on location error and fix success rates may bias GPS location data, resulting in misclassification of habitat use and under-sampling certain areas used by animals. Location error and missing data can increase type II error and may result in incorrect inferences in some studies. These biases need to be assessed and steps should be taken to minimize their influence on results of studies of habitat selection and other aspects of animal ecology.

James W. Cain, Paul R. Krausman, Brian D. Jansen, and John R. Morgart "Influence of topography and GPS fix interval on GPS collar performance," Wildlife Society Bulletin 33(3), 926-934, (1 September 2005).[926:IOTAGF]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 September 2005

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fix rate
global positioning system
GPS telemetry
location error
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