Novel opportunities for wildlife conservation and research with real-time monitoring

Authors

  • Jake Wall,

    Corresponding author
    1. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, 1984 West Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z2 Canada
    2. Save the Elephants, P.O. Box 54667, Nairobi 00200 Kenya
    Search for more papers by this author
  • George Wittemyer,

    1. Save the Elephants, P.O. Box 54667, Nairobi 00200 Kenya
    2. Wittemyer Lab, Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, Colorado State University, 1474 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523 USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Brian Klinkenberg,

    1. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, 1984 West Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z2 Canada
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Iain Douglas-Hamilton

    1. Save the Elephants, P.O. Box 54667, Nairobi 00200 Kenya
    2. Department of Zoology, Oxford University, Oxford OX1 3PS United Kingdom
    Search for more papers by this author

  • Corresponding Editor: J. R. Goheen.

Abstract

The expansion of global communication networks and advances in animal-tracking technology make possible the real-time telemetry of positional data as recorded by animal-attached tracking units. When combined with continuous, algorithm-based analytical capability, unique opportunities emerge for applied ecological monitoring and wildlife conservation. We present here four broad approaches for algorithmic wildlife monitoring in real time—proximity, geofencing, movement rate, and immobility—designed to examine aspects of wildlife spatial activity and behavior not possible with conventional tracking systems. Application of these four routines to the real-time monitoring of 94 African elephants was made. We also provide details of our cloud-based monitoring system including infrastructure, data collection, and customized software for continuous tracking data analysis. We also highlight future directions of real-time collection and analysis of biological, physiological, and environmental information from wildlife to encourage further development of needed algorithms and monitoring technology. Real-time processing of remotely collected, animal biospatial data promises to open novel directions in ecological research, applied species monitoring, conservation programs, and public outreach and education.

Ancillary