The utility of coded very high frequency telemetry for monitoring reintroduced mammal populations

  • February 6, 2023
  • by Chloe H. Frick, Donell Hole, Derek Sandow, Liberty G. M. Olds, Bertram Ostendorf, David Taggart & David Roshier

Very high frequency (VHF) radio tracking technology deployed on terrestrial vertebrates has been well utilized in ecology without much evolution since the 1960s. With the advent of multi-species rewilding projects, and the new field of reintroduction biology, there has  been an increase in requirements for telemetry systems to monitor survival and mortality for many animals simultaneously. Common, pulsed VHF can only monitor one individual on each radio frequency, and the number of individuals monitored is constrained by the amount of time spent on each frequency to facilitate a detection and the number of receivers. Coded VHF largely removes these constraints by using a digital code that can simultaneously monitor up to 512 individuals on a single frequency. Incorporated into an autonomous monitoring system, the coded VHF system also greatly reduces time in the field to confirm the status of individuals. Here we demonstrate the utility of coded VHF technologies applied to monitoring a reintroduced population of brush-tailed bettong (Bettongia penicillata) on the Southern Yorke Peninsula in southern Australia. A system of autonomous monitoring towers was able to monitor 28 different individuals simultaneously without having to change frequency on any of the towers. During a single 24-h period, one individual was recorded 24,078 times. Key benefits of the high detection rate and autonomous recording are, a timely response to mortalities or a predation event, the detection of nocturnal, cryptic, or burrowing species whenever they are active, and the reduced
need for personnel to be in the field.

Publication Date
February 6, 2023

Bettong, Monitoring, Radio tracking, Reintroductions, VHF telemetry

PUBLICATION AVAILABLE AT: The utility of coded very high frequency telemetry for monitoring reintroduced mammal populations – Frick – 2023 – Ecology and Evolution – Wiley Online Library