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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Range Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #286855

Title: Spatiotemporal cattle data - a plea for protocol standardization

item Anderson, Dean
item Estell, Richard - Rick
item CIBILS, ANDRES - New Mexico State University

Submitted to: Positioning
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/24/2013
Publication Date: 2/1/2013
Citation: Anderson, D.M., Estell, R.E., Cibils, A. 2013. Spatiotemporal cattle data - a plea for protocol standardization. Positioning. 4:115-136.

Interpretive Summary: The global navigation satellite system (GNSS), commonly referred to as the global positioning system (GPS), is a new and evolving technology capable of providing unique and exciting ways to study, understand and ultimately manage livestock. To optimize its potential requires expertise beyond just animal/range science when this tool is deployed. A practical understanding of the field operation and maintenance of electronic hardware as well as software is essential in order to gather adequate amounts of data that can be analyzed employing the most robust spatiotemporal statistical tools. This dictates the need for functional teams to be in place when conducting this type of research. Furthermore, it is essential that the protocol followed by these teams be standardized. This manuscript suggests minimum protocols that should be considered by those charged with managing animal dominated landscapes required to provide multiple goods and services.

Technical Abstract: It was not until the end of the 1990’s that animal born satellite receiver’s catapulted range cattle ecology into the 21st century world of microchip technology with all of its opportunities and challenges. With the global navigation satellite system (GNSS) insight into how cattle use a landscape is being revealed from previously secrete temporal and spatial behaviors. The most common system to date deployed for studying ungulates is known as the global positioning system (GPS). With its use has come a clarity and completeness in documenting spatial and temporal data in new and exciting ways that offer almost unlimited possibilities to better understand and manage both the economic as well as societal returns from animal dominated landscapes required to provide multiple goods and services. However, its use on free-ranging cattle is not without challenges, some of which are yet to be optimally solved. To maximize the usefulness of GNSS data consideration must be given to: developing a standardized protocol for reporting and analyzing research that facilitates the interpretation of results across different ecosystems, develop optimum ranges over which to collect satellite fixes depending upon the particular behaviors of interest, and concurrently develop electronic hardware and equipment platforms that are easily deployed on animals that are light, robust and capable of being worn by cattle for extended periods of time without the need for human intervention especially to change batteries. Once the data are collected appropriate geographic information system (GIS) based models should be used to produce a series of visually observable flexible management strategies, some of which may support methodologies that are yet to be commercialized and adopted into future plant-animal interface management routines.