Availability of GPS trackers for scientific research

Willem Bouten and Kees Camphuysen at the UvA-BiTS ground station in the gull colony at Texel

In summer 2008 we did the first tests with our newly developed GPS trackers. Now, 7 years later, we have many collaborative research projects all over the world and together we have tagged more than 1200 birds which produced more than 50,000,000 fixes in toral. Our tags have been deployed on more than 30 species including Black Tailed Godwit, Barnacle Goose, Brent Goose, Common Buzzard, Oystercatchers, (all in the Netherlands), Black Cockatoo (in West Australia), Caspian Tern (in Sweden and Senegal), Crab Plover (in Oman), Egyptian Vulture (on Fuerteventura), Eleanora’s Falcon (on Alegranza), Griffon Vulture (in France and Spain), Herring Gull (in the Netherlands, Belgium UK and Spain), Honey Buzzard (in the Netherlands and Finland), Lesser Black-backed Gull (in the Netherlands, Belgium, UK and Sweden), Montagu’s Harrier (in the Netherlands, Denmark, France and Senegal), Red Kite (in Luxemburg and Italy), Royal Tern (in Senegal), Stone Curlew (in Israel) and Verreaux’s Eagle (South Africa).

Until now, more than 20 publications have appeared on research using UvA-BiTS. Many more are underway.

We do not sell UvA-BiTS for commercial purposes but only for collaborative research (shared property of data and joint publications). We are interested in cooperation if the scientific questions are interesting. In general this means

  1. a challenging scientific question and experts on the species involved
  2. enough birds that can be tagged (sample size)
  3. combination of tracking with field observations (we are convinced that it is the combination that makes the data valuable)
  4. determination to make the project work and to publish about the results.

In general our partners are responsible for fieldwork, tagging birds, permits and maintenance of the system in the field. We will take care of data post-processing and data preservation. We also help with designing the best configuration, control of the system. The virtual lab is available for our partners , facilitating data visualization, exploration and and analayses.  Our research focuses on tje movement ecology of birds. We study migration and local movements, among others flight strategies in relation to weather conditions and landscape properties. We have a lot of experience with running the GPS system and with (automated) analysis of data.

The costs of a measurement project is:

  •  € 5000 for a base station (notebook with software and base antenna),
  •  € 3000 euros for an extra antenna (you may need more than one)
  •  € 1200 euros for each standard GPS tracker
    -  € 1500 for the 16C (with more solar cells)
  •  € 1850 for a GPS-SMS tracker. This includes €150 for prepaid  SMS-service. The costs of the SMS-service are subject to change. Roughly it covers a year of monthly fee (€6 per month) and about 700 SMSses if your bird stays in Europe. If your birds goes to Africa or other continents the extra costs are roughly €0.3 per SMS extra.

We have many requests, therefore we can only accept a request if our partner is willing to pay these costs (these are true costs, not a commercial price).

If you have questions or if you are interested in using UvABiTS, please do not hesitate to contact Willem Bouten, w.bouten@uva.nl or UvA-BiTS @uva.nl.