A guide to sampling design for GPS-based studies of animal societies

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2023
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Klarevas-Irby, James A.
Christensen, Charlotte
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Methods in Ecology and Evolution. Wiley. 2023, 14(8), pp. 1887-1905. ISSN 2041-210X. eISSN 2041-210X. Available under: doi: 10.1111/2041-210X.13999
Zusammenfassung
  1. GPS-based tracking is widely used for studying wild social animals. Much like traditional observational methods, using GPS devices requires making a number of decisions about sampling that can affect the robustness of a study's conclusions. For example, sampling fewer individuals per group across more distinct social groups may not be sufficient to infer group- or subgroup-level behaviours, while sampling more individuals per group across fewer groups limits the ability to draw conclusions about populations.

    2. Here, we provide quantitative recommendations when designing GPS-based tracking studies of animal societies. We focus on the trade-offs between three fundamental axes of sampling effort: (1) sampling coverage—the number and allocation of GPS devices among individuals in one or more social groups; (2) sampling duration—the total amount of time over which devices collect data and (3) sampling frequency—the temporal resolution at which GPS devices record data.

    3. We first test GPS tags under field conditions to quantify how these aspects of sampling design can affect both GPS accuracy (error in absolute positional estimates) and GPS precision (error in the estimate relative position of two individuals), demonstrating that GPS error can have profound effects when inferring distances between individuals. We then use data from whole-group tracked vulturine guineafowl Acryllium vulturinum to demonstrate how the trade-off between sampling frequency and sampling duration can impact inferences of social interactions and to quantify how sampling coverage can affect common measures of social behaviour in animal groups, identifying which types of measures are more or less robust to lower coverage of individuals. Finally, we use data-informed simulations to extend insights across groups of different sizes and cohesiveness.

    4. Based on our results, we are able to offer a range of recommendations on GPS sampling strategies to address research questions across social organizational scales and social systems—from group movement to social network structure and collective decision-making.

    5. Our study provides practical advice for empiricists to navigate their decision-making processes when designing GPS-based field studies of animal social behaviours, and highlights the importance of identifying the optimal deployment decisions for drawing informative and robust conclusions.
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ISO 690HE, Peng, James A. KLAREVAS-IRBY, Danai PAPAGEORGIOU, Charlotte CHRISTENSEN, Eli D. STRAUSS, Damien R. FARINE, 2023. A guide to sampling design for GPS-based studies of animal societies. In: Methods in Ecology and Evolution. Wiley. 2023, 14(8), pp. 1887-1905. ISSN 2041-210X. eISSN 2041-210X. Available under: doi: 10.1111/2041-210X.13999
BibTex
@article{He2023guide-58833,
  year={2023},
  doi={10.1111/2041-210X.13999},
  title={A guide to sampling design for GPS-based studies of animal societies},
  number={8},
  volume={14},
  issn={2041-210X},
  journal={Methods in Ecology and Evolution},
  pages={1887--1905},
  author={He, Peng and Klarevas-Irby, James A. and Papageorgiou, Danai and Christensen, Charlotte and Strauss, Eli D. and Farine, Damien R.}
}
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