Section 3: Designing Studies Based on Acoustic or Radio Telemetry
John D. Koehn
Telemetry (both radio and acoustic) is a widely used methodology that can remotely transfer information from tagged fish, allowing physiology, behavior and ecology to be studied largely undisturbed for long uninterrupted periods (Cooke et al. 2004). Studies can be undertaken using a variety of equipment, and conducted across a wide range of environmental conditions and scales (both spatial and temporal). Consequently, there is not just one approach that can be applied to all studies; rather, telemetry is an extremely powerful tool that offers a range of options (especially equipment and techniques) when designing a study. It is important to explore how telemetry technology can best be applied to meet your research objectives.
As with any technique, telemetry has advantages and limitations. There are many techniques, adaptations, and lessons learned from previous studies (often unreported in the literature) that can be used to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of this research method. While this Section, along with others in this book, will provide some of these lessons, more importantly, it will try to encourage you to think more conceptually about what you are trying to achieve and how to best use telemetry as a method for your study. It also aims to assist the researcher when considering the key decisions, trade-offs and compromises that need to be made during study design and equipment selection, through the provision of information and a process to assist making these decisions. Additionally, this Section emphasizes the importance of proper planning to provide a practical approach for designing and implementing an efficient, effective, and successful field study based on telemetry. It will not provide all the answers, but will prompt you to ask the right questions. It provides information and directions that will help you make better decisions about study design, points to other key sources (including other Sections in this book) that can provide information on individual topics in more detail, and highlights limitations of methods and concerns that may arise. This Section focuses on the need to address the principal considerations associated with designing a study based on telemetry and assessing the technical requirements for its implementation. These include: