Too close and too far: quantifying black rhino displacement and location error during research

Plotz, R. D., Grecian, W. J., Kerley, G. I.H. and Linklater, W. L. (2017) Too close and too far: quantifying black rhino displacement and location error during research. African Journal of Wildlife Research, 47(1), pp. 47-58. (doi:10.3957/056.047.0047)

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Observer impacts on animal behaviour concern conservation managers and researchers of critically endangered species, like black rhino (Diceros bicornis). Repeated observations are sometimes necessary, but may distress and displace animals. Information from more remote observations using radio-triangulation is limited and includes larger measurement errors. We investigated the influence of observer visits on average daily displacement by 14 black rhinos in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, South Africa, and the accuracy of triangulated locations with increasing observer distance and the time to complete bearing sets. Fortnightly observer visits for 34 months that often disturbed rhino (52% of visits) had an insignificant impact on daily movements. However, increasing observer distance from rhino, and the time taken to triangulate, were both significant explanations of rhino location error. We recommend that measures to quantify and minimize observer influence become standard monitoring protocol and that bearings for radio-triangulation of black rhino locations occur from <1 km (not >2 km), and be completed within 30 minutes. Reporting measures for spatial error and observer influence permit the development of objective thresholds for data inclusion to improve radio-telemetry data and inter-study comparisons of black rhino range studies.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Grecian, Dr James
Authors: Plotz, R. D., Grecian, W. J., Kerley, G. I.H., and Linklater, W. L.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:African Journal of Wildlife Research
Publisher:Southern African Wildlife Management Association
ISSN (Online):2410-8200
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 Southern African Wildlife Management Association
First Published:First published in African Journal of Wildlife Research 47(1):47-58
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with the permission of the publisher

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