Parameters like habitat contours, patterns of habitat use, home range, and behavioral use of space currently are difficult and time consuming to determine but are important considerations in the evaluation of exposure and ecological risk. The ability to evaluate these parameters precisely will greatly improve the accuracy of ecological risk assessment activities.
The objective of this project was to provide the technical means to gather data accurately and efficiently to support ecological research. Integration of existing automated radiotelemetry technology with global positioning system (GPS), geographic information system (GIS)/heuristic optimized processing system (HOPS), and land cover information will increase the efficiency, accuracy, and availability of habitat and land cover use data necessary for a variety of ecological analyses including waste site characterization; ecological risk assessment; performance and success of ecosystem restorations; and habitat use of animal species of concern, such as those listed as threatened or endangered.
The principal technical approach was to integrate existing telemetry hardware with other available remote sensing technology (GPS) and information management systems (HOPS). This was accomplished through use of the existing automated radiotelemetry hardware and its control software and the development of interfaces to integrate the telemetry data with existing GPS technology and habitat contour information in an accessible package in HOPS. Full-scale field research provided testing and verification of the technical approach. Development of remote access of telemetry equipment for data downloading through satellite or cellular phone links will facilitate the planned off-site deployment of the system.
This system will supply data density information on habitat use that is orders of magnitude more comprehensive than that possible with previous systems. This will reduce the costs and increase the quantity of data acquisition. This project was completed in FY 1997.
Data collected and analyzed with the proposed system is useful and necessary for many compliance-related activities, such as characterization of waste sites prior to an ecological risk assessment using selection and monitoring of indicator organisms chosen as ecological risk assessment endpoints, threatened and endangered species issues, Natural Resource Damage Assessment (CERCLA) activities, and recovery of population and habitat use within restored ecosystems. The capability of the radiotelemetry system to supply data density on habitat use is orders of magnitude greater than currently possible and allows much more precise assessment of species habitat utilization.