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Disease management in Ethiopian Wolves. Conserving Africa's most endangered carnivore. Foley, James.. University of Oxford, 1 Mar 2017. Experiment
This project is trying to use cutting edge technology and modelling for an applied conservation problem. The use of GPS technology for science was really pioneered by ecological research but in the past has been incredibly expensive limiting its usage. Now with the availability of open source hardware, software and designs; combined with low cost components GPS tracking devices can be made for a fraction of the price. I plan to construct 15 of these devices based on Arduino micro-controllers, the plans of which I will make available as a lab note here and online for free.
The first obstacle for me is the fact that, having an ecology background, the physical construction of electronics is new to me. Fortunately I have enjoyed tinkering with technology for many years and have a strong programming background which mean I am already making good progress in the construction of a prototype.
As with any ecology project there are always risks of issues cropping up during data collection, collars being stolen, animals dying, collars failing. These can be minimised with good procedure and a good relationship with the people you work with. I will bring spare components with me for on the fly repairs if there are issues with the collars during deployment.
The data collected will be used to determine patterns of movement, behaviour and habitat preference. The range of this data will be used in a bayesian parameterisation to inform the best movement and other behaviour parameters in the simulation model. The simulation model is built using Netlogo, a platform and language for agent based models. It will have individual wolves and dogs moving around the landscape based on GIS data to be as accurate to life as possible. I will then use this model to trial various management strategies for conserving the wolves. I will be putting a short video of the current "Toy model" in a labnote soon.
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