Radiocollars do not affect the survival or foraging behaviour of wild meerkats


Krystyna A. Golabek, School of Biological Sciences, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UG, UK.


The practice of radiocollaring is increasingly being used in the study of wild animal populations. However, methods of tracking and monitoring are known to affect some species negatively. On a wild population of habituated meerkats Suricata suricatta, we investigated the potential costs and consequences of carrying a radiocollar for small carnivores, focusing on detailed aspects of foraging behaviour and survival. Radiocollared individuals were no more likely to be predated than non-collared individuals in the same social group. We also found that collaring did not affect foraging efficiency, with collared individuals being equally efficient foragers (four measures) while wearing a collar compared with the pre-collaring period. To control for group-specific events, changes in foraging efficiency after collaring were compared with the behaviour of control individuals from the same group and no significant differences were found. In conclusion, we found no evidence to suggest radiocollars impact negatively on the bearer's welfare, survival or foraging ability.