We compared the ability of global positioning system (GPS) radio collars deployed on elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni) to obtain valid positions (position acquisition rate [PAR]) in seasonal home ranges with differing vegetation and topographical characteristics. We also compared GPS collar PARs under varying levels of cloud cover and within differing daily time periods. We recorded a mean PAR of 69% (n = 10 elk, s = 14%) for collared elk. Multiple regression analysis of seasonal home range characteristics indicated that vegetation cover type and slope, either as individual variables or in combination with one another, were not significant predictors of GPS collar PARs. We did not observe statistical differences in position acquisition rates between cloud cover classes or varying cloud base heights. PAR was significantly higher between 1600 h and 2000 h (mountain standard time) compared to 0000 h–1200 h, which may have been due to elk behavior. We believe using GPS collars is a more effective and efficient method of tracking elk in our study area than using very-high-frequency (VHF) collars since GPS collars can be programmed to obtain fixes automatically, have fewer logistical problems, and are more economical with long-term data collection efforts.
Biggs, James R.; Bennett, Kathryn D.; and Fresquez, Phil R.
"Relationship between home range characteristics and the probability of obtaining successful global positioning system (GPS) collar positions for elk in New Mexico,"
Western North American Naturalist: Vol. 61
, Article 8.
Available at: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/wnan/vol61/iss2/8