Radio & Satellite Telemetry
Radio telemetry is a valuable tool for tracking animal movements and studying habitat selection and use. Since the 1980s, the Reindeer Research Program has been using radio collars to study the grazing habits of reindeer to aid in the development of sound range management practices.
When the presence of caribou on the Seward Peninsula became a threat to reindeer herds in the late 1990s, we incorporated satellite collars into our telemetry program, allowing continuous data acquisition without many of the constraints of a conventional VHF telemetry system.
Reindeer owners on the Seward Peninsula learned that the VHF telemetry collars were useful tools to assist in the location of thier herds, but the cost of the collars, flight time to track collars, and flying weather issues limited the wide spread use of this technology.
One of the early reindeer research program projects which made use of radio telemetry was Reindeer Calf Productivity And Survival On The Seward Peninsula Alaska.
This project involved radio collaring newborn reindeer calves out on the tundra and monitoring their survival. The radio collars used were made by Telonics and featured an expandible design which adjusted as the calf grew in size.
In the late 1990's the RRP added satellite telemetry collars to its research toolbox. They again turned to Telonics as the collar manufacturer, and set up service with CLS America, known as ARGOS at the time, for processing and delivery of the satellite collar location data.
From the year 2000 to 2018 the RRP used various types of Radio and Satellite Telemetry Collars(ARGOS,Iridium,GPS) from Telonics and Lotek to support our research goals.
The RRP developed its own automated satellite collar location mapping system which provided timely accurate location maps to the RRP, government agencies, and Seward Peninsula reindeer herders.
This system and the developing use of satellite telemetry collars on Seward Peninsula reindeer herds is detailed in the MSc. thesis Changing Strategies in Seward Peninsula Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) Management.