An automated temperature-based option for estimating surface activity and refuge use patterns in free-ranging animals

J. R. Davis, E. N. Taylor, Dale Denardo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Accurately assessing free-ranging animals' patterns of surface activity and refuge use is critical, yet fundamentally challenging for biologists and wildlife managers. We evaluate the accuracy of an automated technique-temperature-based activity estimation (TBAE)-in estimating surface activity and refuge use patterns of two sympatric reptiles, the western diamond-backed rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) and the Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum) in the Sonoran Desert. TBAE derived from a comparison of body temperature to shaded air temperature was effective in estimating the overall percent surface activity for both rattlesnakes (observed surface activity 51.8%, TBAE estimated surface activity 48.2%) and Gila monsters (observed 22.3%, TBAE 24.5%). There was, however, considerable interspecific difference in the effectiveness of TBAE in predicting surface activity at specific time points; TBAE was far more accurate for Gila monsters than for rattlesnakes (96% vs. 66% time point-specific accuracy, respectively). We assert that, when validated, TBAE can be used to yield concurrent and accurate body temperatures and activity estimates for multiple free-ranging animals, particularly in arid environments, which improves our understanding of animal biology and can be used to inform management decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1414-1422
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Volume72
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2008

Keywords

  • Atrox
  • Biotelemetry
  • Crotalus
  • Heloderma
  • Reptile
  • Suspectum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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