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PLoS One. 2011 Feb 16;6(2):e14696. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0014696.

Satellite telemetry and long-range bat movements.

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  • 1Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory, Department of Employment, Biosecurity Queensland, Economic Development & Innovation, Coopers Plains, Queensland, Australia.



Understanding the long-distance movement of bats has direct relevance to studies of population dynamics, ecology, disease emergence, and conservation.


We developed and trialed several collar and platform terminal transmitter (PTT) combinations on both free-living and captive fruit bats (Family Pteropodidae: Genus Pteropus). We examined transmitter weight, size, profile and comfort as key determinants of maximized transmitter activity. We then tested the importance of bat-related variables (species size/weight, roosting habitat and behavior) and environmental variables (day-length, rainfall pattern) in determining optimal collar/PTT configuration. We compared battery- and solar-powered PTT performance in various field situations, and found the latter more successful in maintaining voltage on species that roosted higher in the tree canopy, and at lower density, than those that roost more densely and lower in trees. Finally, we trialed transmitter accuracy, and found that actual distance errors and Argos location class error estimates were in broad agreement.


We conclude that no single collar or transmitter design is optimal for all bat species, and that species size/weight, species ecology and study objectives are key design considerations. Our study provides a strategy for collar and platform choice that will be applicable to a larger number of bat species as transmitter size and weight continue to decrease in the future.

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