Section 1: Introduction
Telemetry provides a powerful and flexible tool for studying aquatic animals, making it possible to repeatedly locate and identify individuals in remote or inaccessible settings—a task that would be difficult (if not impossible) to accomplish using other methods. The use of telemetry has increased dramatically in recent years, and its application is limited only by the capabilities of the equipment and the researcher’s imagination. In spite of these advantages, telemetry is equipment-intensive and generally requires more specialized knowledge and training than many other field techniques. The electronic equipment associated with its use can often dazzle, intimidate, and confuse those just starting out. Even experienced users are often hard-pressed to keep up with the technological advances. Answers to such basic questions as “what equipment do I need?” or “how do I get started?” are not always evident or straightforward. These are valid concerns, since the equipment and methods used can affect the success of the study and the quality of information collected.
The purpose of this book is to provide a guide for using telemetry to study aquatic animals—call it a user’s manual or Telemetry 101. Our principal intent is to provide the basic information to plan, implement, and conduct telemetry studies under field conditions. Considerations related to data collection and interpretations are also discussed. As with any scientific procedure, collecting usable information and accurately interpreting study results depends on an understanding of the underlying principles of the methods used. A wide range of telemetry equipment and field techniques are available. Clearly defined research objectives and knowledge of the various options, capabilities, and limitations of the equipment and methods is essential for developing projects that effectively address the research or management questions being asked. Telemetry is a tool, and like any tool it will only function effectively when used properly.