A nail-sized GPS backpack helps track wildlife

A GPS backpack of the size of a fingernail will help you track wildlife in hard to reach places. The development, presented by scientists from Ohio State University, is described in the journal PLOS Biology.

Miniature devices developed by scientists can be mounted on the back or legs of animals and are able to communicate with each other via ground-based receivers. This will create a network for observing organisms in their natural – and difficult to access research – habitat. For example, in caves or in hollow tree trunks.

The devices have the function of motion detection, connecting to GPS and Bluetooth, but at the same time they spend very little electricity to maintain their work. The length of the devices is from three to 12.5 cm (depending on the animal on which they are installed), and the weight ranges from 28 to 42 grams.

According to the researchers, GPS-backpacks will not only allow you to effectively track movements and learn more about the lifestyle of certain animals but will also reduce the load on them – before some of the studied species, for example, bats had to carry rather heavy trackers on their backs.

Testing the operability of a network of several dozen devices on a bat population showed that it is able to accurately record events from the life of these bats, such as social contacts, movements and places in which they prefer to eat.

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