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Diversity 2019, 11(3), 34;

GPS Technology for Semi-Aquatic Turtle Research

Natural Resources Research Institute, Department of Biology, University of Minnesota-Duluth, 5013 Miller Trunk Highway, Duluth, MN 55811, USA
School of Natural Resources, West Virginia University, PO Box 6125, 322 Percival Hall, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA
Northern Research Station, U.S. Forest Service, Parsons, WV 26287, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Present address: Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana, 32 Campus Drive, Missoula, MT 59812, USA.
Received: 23 January 2019 / Revised: 22 February 2019 / Accepted: 25 February 2019 / Published: 1 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in the Biology and Conservation of Turtles)
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Global positioning system (GPS) telemetry units are now small enough to be deployed on terrestrial and semi-aquatic turtles. Many of these GPS units use snapshot technology which collects raw satellite and timestamp data during brief periods of data recording to minimize size. We evaluated locations from snapshot GPS units in stationary tests and on wood turtles (Glyptemys insculpta) in northeastern Minnesota. Stationary GPS units were placed in wood turtle habitat to evaluate location accuracy, fix success rate, and directional bias. The GPS fix success rate and accuracy were reduced in closed canopy conditions and when the stationary GPS unit was placed under a log to simulate wood turtle hiding behavior. We removed GPS location outliers and used a moving average calculation to reduce mean location error in stationary tests from 27 m (SD = 38) to 10 m (SD = 8). We then deployed GPS units and temperature loggers on wood turtles and collected 122,657 GPS locations and 242,781 temperature readings from 26 turtles from May to September 2015 and 2016. Location outliers accounted for 12% of locations when the GPS receiver was on a turtle. We classified each wood turtle location based on the GPS location and by comparing temperature profiles from river, sun, and shaded locations to the temperature logger on the turtle. We estimated that wood turtles were on land 68% (SD = 12) of the time from May to September. The fix success rate for land locations was 38% (SD = 9), indicating that wood turtles often use habitats with obstructed views of the sky. Mean net daily movement was 55 m (SD = 192). Our results demonstrate that snapshot GPS units and temperature loggers provide fine-scale GPS data useful in describing spatial ecology and habitat use of semi-aquatic turtles. View Full-Text
Keywords: fix success rate; GPS technology; location error; Minnesota; reptile; stationary tests; temperature; wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) fix success rate; GPS technology; location error; Minnesota; reptile; stationary tests; temperature; wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta)

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Cochrane, M.M.; Brown, D.J.; Moen, R.A. GPS Technology for Semi-Aquatic Turtle Research. Diversity 2019, 11, 34.

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