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Minimizing the impact of biologging devices: Using computational fluid dynamics for optimizing tag design and positioning / William P. Kay; David S. Naumann; Hannah J. Bowen; Simon J. Withers; Benjamin J. Evans; Rory P. Wilson; Thomas B. Stringell; James C. Bull; Phil W. Hopkins; Luca Börger
Methods in Ecology and Evolution
Swansea University Author: Evans, Ben
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1. Biologging devices are used ubiquitously across vertebrate taxa in studies of movement and behavioural ecology to record data from organisms without the need for direct observation. Despite the dramatic increase in the sophistication of this technology, progress in reducing the impact of these de...
|Published in:||Methods in Ecology and Evolution|
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1. Biologging devices are used ubiquitously across vertebrate taxa in studies of movement and behavioural ecology to record data from organisms without the need for direct observation. Despite the dramatic increase in the sophistication of this technology, progress in reducing the impact of these devices to animals is less obvious, notwithstanding the implications for animal welfare. Existing guidelines focus on tag weight (e.g. the ‘5% rule'), ignoring aero/hydrodynamic forces in aerial and aquatic organisms, which can be considerable. Designing tags to minimize such impact for animals moving in fluid environments is not trivial, as the impact depends on the position of the tag on the animal, as well as its shape and dimensions.2. We demonstrate the capabilities of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling to optimize the design and positioning of biologgers on marine animals, using the grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) as a model species. Specifically, we investigate the effects of (a) tag form, (b) tag size, and (c) tag position and quantify the impact under frontal hydrodynamic forces, as encountered by seals swimming at sea.3. By comparing a conventional versus a streamlined tag, we show that the former can induce up to 22% larger drag for a swimming seal; to match the drag of the streamlined tag, the conventional tag would have to be reduced in size by 50%. For the conventional tag, the drag induced can differ by up to 11% depending on the position along the seal's body, whereas for the streamlined tag this difference amounts to only 5%.4. We conclude by showing how the CFD simulation approach can be used to optimize tag design to reduce drag for aerial and aquatic species, including issues such as the impact of lateral currents (unexplored until now). We also provide a step‐by‐step guide to facilitate the implementation of CFD in biologging tag design.
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