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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #384212

Research Project: Ticks and Human Health

Location: Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory

Title: Very small collars: an evaluation of telemetry location estimators for small mammals

item HUMMELL, GRACE - University Of Maryland
item Li, Andrew
item MULLINAX, JENNIFER - University Of Maryland

Submitted to: Animal Biotelemetry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/8/2022
Publication Date: 9/28/2022
Citation: Hummell, G., Li, A.Y., Mullinax, J. 2022. Very small collars: an evaluation of telemetry location estimators for small mammals. Animal Biotelemetry.

Interpretive Summary: White-footed mouse populations have thrived in fragmented suburban and urban parks and residential spaces. As the major vertebrate reservoir species for the pathogen that causes Lyme disease in people and an important host for the immature stages of the black-legged tick, the white-footed mouse plays a pivotal role in the spread and prevalence of Lyme disease and several other tick-borne diseases. Understanding mouse habitat selection would aid development of more effective mouse-targeted tick control technologies. USDA-ARS scientists and researchers from the University of Maryland used very small radio collars to investigate activities of the white-footed mouse at the intersection of wooded area and residential backyards as part of an area wide tick management project. Mouse home range size was determined in relation to season, mouse density and sex. Ecological factors affecting mouse activity and behaviors as well as implications of research findings to tick management strategies were discussed. Disease ecologists, entomologists, tick-borne disease epidemiologists, and vector control professionals can directly benefit from knowledge generated from this study in their efforts to improve tick surveillance and develop new host-targeted tick control technologies.

Technical Abstract: he white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) is a generalist species and its populations have thrived in fragmented suburban and urban parks and residential spaces. In this study, spatial data were collected using Very High Frequency (VHF) mouse collars from 61 individual mice at three study areas in Howard County, Maryland. In this study, we present a coordinated strategy for collecting fine-scale spatial data on Peromyscus spp. as a model species for micro-Very High Frequency collars and assess multiple programmatic options for calculating telemetry locations. We compared the two most cited location estimator programs in the literature, location of a signal software and Locate III, as well as the Sigloc package in program R. To assess the programmatic estimates of coordinates at a fine scale and examine programmatic impacts on different analyses, we created and compared minimum convex polygon and kernel density estimator home ranges from locations produced by each program. This study highlights how different location estimators could change the results of a small mammal study and emphasizes the need to calculate telemetry error and meticulously document the specific parameters of the location estimator.