The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Field-testing global positioning system (GPS) collars on long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) in Singapore: evaluation of tracking ability in mixed rainforest habitat


1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, 2Department of Anthropology, University of Notre Dame

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Here we report on a field test of satellite global position system (GPS) collars on two long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) in Singapore. Our goal was to assess the feasibility of collaring primates in complex forested and anthropogenic habitat. We recorded the locations of 2 individuals over a 4-week period in and around Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. The collared individuals were from distinct social groups occupying adjacent home ranges. The collars recorded location, satellite data, and temperature every 10-15 minutes during daylight hours and every hour over night. The GPS position acquisition rate was high relative to studies carried out on mammals in similar mixed forest habitat and comparable to those recorded for primates utilizing open habitat. The GPS fixed a position in >98% of positioning attempts for both collars (N = 2491 attempts), with average time required to obtain a reading being less than a minute. The near 100% fix rate combined with an average of over 6 satellites for each position fix provided us with very high accuracy in the GPS positions recorded. Despite residing in adjacent groups the two collared macaques showed minimal overlap in range use, but used multiple habitat types within the ranges. Given the collar’s strong reliability, spatial accuracy, and low impact on the study animal, our results open up new methodological and analytic possibilities for future utilization of GPS technology to research ranging patterns of primates in complex habitats.

This work was supported by GLOBES, an interdisciplinary training program funded by National Science Foundation IGERT grant #0504495, National Science Foundation #BCS-0639787, and funds from the University of Notre Dame Office of Research and the College of Arts and Letters.

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