ProxLogs: Miniaturised proximity loggers for monitoring association behaviour in small animals
More details
Hide details
Evolutionary Ecology, Universiteit Antwerpen
Faculty of Applied Engineering, Universiteit Antwerpen
imec, Antwerp, Belgium
Pest Management Centre, Sokoine University of Agriculture
Behavioural Ecology and Ecophysiology, Universiteit Antwerpen
Lucinda Kirkpatrick   

Evolutionary Ecology, Universiteit Antwerpen
Online publication date: 2021-08-19
Publication date: 2021-08-19
1. The ability to monitor associations between wild animals is essential for understanding the processes governing gene transfer, information transfer, competition, predation and disease transmission. 2. Until recently, such insights have been confined to large, visible orcaptive animals. However, the rapid development of miniature sensors for consumer electronics is allowing ecologists to monitor the natural world in ways previously considered impossible. 3. Here we describe miniature (<1g) proximity loggers we have developed that use Bluetooth Low Energy transmission to register contacts between individuals. Our loggers are open source, low cost, rechargeable, able to store up to 2000 contacts, can be programmed in situ and can download data remotely or through a mobile phone application, increasing their utility in remote areas or with species which are challenging to recapture. 4. We successfully trialled our loggers in a range of field realistic conditions, demonstrating that Bluetooth Low Energy is capable of logging associations in structurally complex habitats, and that changes in received signal strength can be equated to short range changes in distance between loggers. Furthermore, we tested the system on European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). 5. The ability to include other sensors is retained in our prototypes,allowing for the potential integration of physiological and behavioural inference into social networks derived from our approach. Due to its open source nature, small size, flexibility of use and the active research currently being undertaken with Bluetooth Low Energy, we believe that our approach is a valuable addition to the biologging toolkit.