To date, Mataki devices have been deployed on a number of species addressing a broad range of biological questions. Please see below for a list of past and current projects.
ZSL: Movement patterns and energetics in the Bengal tiger
Bengal tigers are currently being tracked in Corbett National Park using commercial GPS collars. This deployment of Mataki was designed to gather tri-axial acceleration data, recorded at 8 Hz, alongside tiger GPS tracks to explore energetics within different areas of the park. Acceleration data from these short-term deployments were recovered wirelessly using a base station configured device from the back of an elephant. It is hoped that fine scale information on the location and energetics of this species will help inform areas of the National Park that are of critical importance for hunting, resting and other behaviours helping prioritise future conservation efforts within the park.
ZSL: Home ranges of pygmy three-toes sloths in Panama
The Critically Endangered pygmy three-toed sloth Bradypus pygmaeus is endemic to Isla Escudo de Veraguas, a 4.3 km² island 17km off mainland Panama. Described in 2001, it is considered to be Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (www.edgeofexistence.org), and hence a global conservation priority.
Although the island of Escudo is uninhabited, there are seasonal visitors: indigenous fishermen and lobster divers, and occasional tourists. Local visitor numbers are increasing and they temporarily live on Escudo, utilizing the island’s natural resources for fishing and cutting mangroves for charcoal and timber. ZSL, through supporting EDGE Fellow Dr. Diorene Smith, aims to integrate monitoring and assessment of the conservation needs of the pygmy sloth, with a comprehensive community engagement programme to raise awareness, promote sustainable resource use and improve management of the island.
The sloths were believed to be restricted to the 10ha of mangroves on the island, and assessments estimated ~100 individuals. However, there is evidence that the sloths are also using the tropical forest and swamp habitats on the rest of the island, but because they are virtually impossible to see in the forest, it is difficult to know for certain.
To investigate this, we are using mataki tags in combination with radio-collars, to collect data on sloth movements around the island over the course of 6 months. The radio-collars allow us to relocate the sloths every few months to download data from the mataki tags, and the tags record a GPS location twice a day. Knowing how they use the entire island will allow us to generate more realistic population estimates, and identify priority sites on the island for conservation.
RSPB: Future of the Atlantic Marine Environment (FAME)
UK seabirds have undergone severe declines in recent years, and it is thought that these declines are related to where and what these birds are eating. The RSPB’s Seabird Tracking and Research (STAR) team aims to identify through tracking technology where seabird foraging hotspots occur and what makes them important. We have tracked over at over 30 different colonies in the UK since 2010, and we have retrieved data from over 1800 tags in that time, giving us an unparalleled look into the lives of our seabirds whilst they are at sea.
This year, we deployed Mataki tags at a number of our sites. They offer us the opportunity to get data from colonies that are difficult to work in with more conventional (archival) tags, and allow a much higher rate of data retrieval and less disturbance to colony nesting seabirds. They do require more in-depth knowledge than the “off the peg” tags in order to use successfully, but are an excellent addition to our tag repertoire.
UCL: Seabirds – Skomer, Lundy (to be added soon…)