Kauth, H. R., R. C. Lonsinger, A. J. Kauth, and A. J. Gregory. 2020. Low-cost DIY GPS trackers improve upland game bird monitoring. Wildlife Biology 2020:1–7. doi: 10.2981/wlb.00653.
We tested the possibility and feasibility of assembling Arduino GPS trackers without previous engineering experience and modified them for upland game birds under extreme environmental conditions. Low-cost GPS trackers were assembled and deployed on ring-necked pheasants Phasianus colchicus in conjunction with an ongoing winter survival study. To assess GPS receiver accuracy, we deployed trackers in a static test. The static test fix rate was 1.0, median error was 2.5 m and mean error was 13.3 m (SD = 39.5). During the mobile test, wild pheasants were captured using walk-in funnel traps baited with corn from January to March 2019. During winter, 407 VHF locations and 1574 GPS locations of 35 individuals were collected, resulting in a 287% increase in data density at only 23% increase in cost. The fix rate during the mobile test averaged to 0.83. To determine if trackers were low-cost, we calculated cumulative costs of equipment and supplies required to recreate the GPS tracking unit. GPS costs were $47.60 per unit with an additional $202.00 for the supplemental VHF transmitter.