Performance of proximity loggers in recording intra- and inter-species interactions: a laboratory and field-based validation study
Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Copyright: 2012 Drewe et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited
Knowledge of the way in which animals interact through social networks can help to address questions surrounding the ecological and evolutionary consequences of social organisation, and to understand and manage the spread of infectious diseases. Automated proximity loggers are increasingly being used to record interactions between animals, but the accuracy and reliability of the collected data remain largely un-assessed. Here we use laboratory and observational field data to assess the performance of these devices fitted to a herd of 32 beef cattle (Bos taurus) and nine groups of badgers (Meles meles, n = 77) living in the surrounding woods. The distances at which loggers detected each other were found to decrease over time, potentially related to diminishing battery power that may be a function of temperature. Loggers were highly accurate in recording the identification of contacted conspecifics, but less reliable at determining contact duration. There was a tendency for extended interactions to be recorded as a series of shorter contacts. We show how data can be manipulated to correct this discrepancy and accurately reflect observed interaction patterns by combining records between any two loggers that occur within a 1 to 2 minute amalgamation window, and then removing any remaining 1 second records. We make universally applicable recommendations for the effective use of proximity loggers, to improve the validity of data arising from future studies.
Funding was provided by DEFRA Project SE3032 and the Royal Veterinary College (MS#VCS00203). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript
This is the final version of the article. Available from the publisher via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 7: e39068
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