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PLoS Biology Issue Image | Vol. 18(4) May 2020

PLoS Biology Issue Image | Vol. 18(4) May 2020

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Thinking small: Next-generation sensor networks close the size gap in vertebrate biologging

Recent advances in animal tracking technology have ushered in a new era in biologging. However, the considerable size of many sophisticated biologging devices restricts their application to larger animals, whereas older techniques often still represent the state-of-the-art for studying small vertebrates. In industrial applications, low-power wireless sensor networks fulfill requirements similar to those needed to monitor animal behavior at high resolution and at low tag mass. Ripperger et al. developed a wireless biologging network (WBN), which enables simultaneous direct proximity sensing, high-resolution tracking, and long-range remote data download at tag masses of 1 to 2 g. Their use of WBNs to study wild bats created social networks and flight trajectories of unprecedented quality. These developments highlight the vast capabilities of WBNs and their potential to close an important gap in biologging: fully automated tracking and proximity sensing of small animals, even in closed habitats, at high spatial and temporal resolution. The image shows a common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus) carrying a WBN biologger on its back.

Image Credit: Sherry and Brock Fenton

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Thinking small: Next-generation sensor networks close the size gap in vertebrate biologging

Recent advances in animal tracking technology have ushered in a new era in biologging. However, the considerable size of many sophisticated biologging devices restricts their application to larger animals, whereas older techniques often still represent the state-of-the-art for studying small vertebrates. In industrial applications, low-power wireless sensor networks fulfill requirements similar to those needed to monitor animal behavior at high resolution and at low tag mass. Ripperger et al. developed a wireless biologging network (WBN), which enables simultaneous direct proximity sensing, high-resolution tracking, and long-range remote data download at tag masses of 1 to 2 g. Their use of WBNs to study wild bats created social networks and flight trajectories of unprecedented quality. These developments highlight the vast capabilities of WBNs and their potential to close an important gap in biologging: fully automated tracking and proximity sensing of small animals, even in closed habitats, at high spatial and temporal resolution. The image shows a common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus) carrying a WBN biologger on its back.

Image Credit: Sherry and Brock Fenton

https://doi.org/10.1371/image.pbio.v18.i04.g001