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About Radio Telemetry
In its broadest sense, telemetry can be defined as the art and science of conveying information from one location to another. With radio telemetry, radio signals are utilized to convey that information.
Taking advantage of the rapid advances in this technology, biologists can now equip their research subjects with amazingly small radio transmitters, and track their movements and behaviour in impressive detail with the aid of equally advanced receivers.
In the development of ever more sophisticated radio telemetry equipment for biological research, Lotek has led the way.
Radio telemetry involves the use of transmitters to emit the signals, receivers to detect and record them, and accessories to further support and enhance this tracking technology.
Lotek offers a variety of radio transmitters for use on fish and wildlife of various sizes, in various habitats. Our receivers and accessories are equally versatile, providing a range of tracking options to fit your research needs.
Types & Options
Both in the transmitting and the receiving of radio signals, a variety of options are available.
Transmitting: Pulsed or Digitally
Conventional radio telemetry involves the use of pulsed signals - the familiar "beep-beep-beep" signals that conventional radio tags emit. Pulsed systems provide identification of research subjects through the use of frequency separation combined with a variety of pulse rates.
By contrast, each digitally encoded radio tag transmits a distinct and unique numerical code that differentiates it from all other tags, even those transmitting on the exact same frequency. In fact, over 500 different coded tags can be deployed on any one frequency.
Receiving: Manual Tracking
or Fixed Station Datalogging
Traditional manual tracking is often employed in studies of gross fish movements, mammalian migratory patterns, location of spawning grounds, etc. Tracking can either be done by doing a manual search for signals on every frequency assigned, or with the aid of a scanning receiver that automatically listens at each frequency for a small period of time. When a valid radio signal is detected, the automatic scan cycle can be suspended long enough to locate the animal precisely.
Fixed station datalogging, first introduced by Lotek in the late 1980's, further automates tracking by recording extensive data on each radio signal "event". In such applications, a receiver is deployed to automatically scan for all frequencies in use. Whenever a valid transmitter signal is detected, the datalogger records its date, time (hour, minute, second), frequency, pulse rate and relative signal strength.
Receiving: Single Antenna
or Antenna Switching
Depending upon the complexity of the research project, receivers can detect transmitted signals with the aid of either a single antenna, if the study is a relatively simple one, or with a multiple antenna arrangement. In the latter, receivers with special antenna switching capabilities can be configured to monitor up to eight different antennas, either sequentially or simultaneously, and record all related event data from each.
Lotek's radio telemetry systems are among the most advanced of their kind in the world. We are proud to be on the leading edge of the development of fish and wildlife tracking technology. Some of our biggest innovations in this area:
- digitally encoded systems
- fixed station datalogging
- antenna switching
- signal activation programming
- programmable microprocessor transmitters
- physiological sensing transmitters
- combined acoustic and radio transmitters
- remote data acquisition via modem or satellite link
Species & Habitats
Radio telemetry can be utilized in virtually any habitat, be it freshwater, terrestrial, marine or avian. The range of animals that can be tracked with this technology is equally large; Lotek has tags and attachment methods that will allow researchers to monitor fish, birds, mammals and amphibians of almost any size. Not sure if your species applies? Contact us and we'll be pleased to discuss tracking options with you.
Our engineers and biologists have worked with clients to develop systems capable of monitoring many different types of animal movement and behaviour. Just a few examples of past applications of this technology:
- escapement estimates of Chinook salmon in large river systems
- Chinook and Steelhead migrations to evaluate effectiveness of passage structures at dams on the Snake and Columbia Rivers
- entrainment of shad on Rivière des Prairies in Québec
- bioenergetic expense to sockeye salmon attempting to negotiate a natural velocity barrier on the Fraser River in British Columbia
- effectiveness of passage structures in Newfoundland based upon bioenergetic expense to migrating Atlantic salmon
A wide range of transmitters, receiver configurations and accessories are available to address your radio telemetry needs. The telemetry system design most suitable for your particular study is dependent upon an equally wide range of application-specific factors.
We invite you to contact us - our application specialists will be happy to discuss your telemetry system requirements in detail, and assist you through all the stages of your project planning to ensure that your system design and data gathering capabilities are optimized to capture the information that you seek.