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Biotelemetric Methods (10 ECTS)


Course period: Spring semester (April-May), every second year. Next course: Spring 2015
Language of instruction: English
Credit reduction/overlap: 10 ECTS with AB-325
Grade: Letter grade (A through F)
Course materials: Curriculum/reading list: Ca. 350 pages (30-35 scientific articles)
Course responsible: Kit M. Kovacs
UNIS contact person: Steve Coulson
Course costs: Ca. NOK 600
Course capacity min/max: 5/20 students (AB-325/825 in total)

Required previous knowledge/specific course requirements:
Enrolled in a relevant PhD programme in biology. Basic knowledge of statistics and computing (completed undergraduate programme in biology).

Learning outcome:

Upon completion of the course students will have a good working knowledge of available technologies (including an understanding of the physics behind the technology) and procedures for biotelemetric and biologging studies and an introduction to the most current analytical tools for dealing with telemetry data. They will have experience in the field using a variety of different "tag" technologies and practical experience analysing telemetric data. They will also have Arctic safety training and field excursion experience. The course is intended for PhD students working with projects involving field studies of vertebrate taxa. PhD students will have had practical training in all facets of running a scientific, telemetric study, from funding acquisition to journal manuscript submission.

Academic content:
The course includes lectures, demonstrations, computer labs and practical exercises that introduce students to a selection of the most relevant techniques for biotelemetry and biologging field studies. This includes VHF-telemetry, satellite-based tracking with GPS and "phone-tag" technologies, transponders, acoustic sensing systems and selected physiological and behavioural sampling telemetric methods. Relevant technologies and analytical tools for environmental remote sensing will also be introduced. The course will include practical exercises and data processing methods. Laws and regulations pertaining to animal welfare and radio transmissions associated with the use of telemetric equipment and instrumentation of wild animals will be dealt with in lecture and discussion sessions.

Students will have the opportunity to join field work in on-going research programmes – the specifics of which will depend on the availability of such research projects within the time frame of the course.

Topics include:
1) Basic principles for radio signal transmission & antenna theory
2) Telemetric technology, regulations and management of frequencies
3) Ethics (animal welfare) in biotelemetry/biologging
4) Introduction to VHF-based telemetry and GPS-positioning systems in biotelemetry- transmitters applications and limitations
5) Telemetry & biologging equipment - a manufacturers perspective
6) User “issues” – another manufacturer’s perspective – trouble shooting
7) Maps, mapping and GPS technology - Practical applications
8) Acoustic telemetry - Methods & Science questions
9) Range size, habitat use etc. (Storage, and retrieval of data and the integration of animal tracks and terrestrial environmental data)
10) An introduction to GIS tools
11) Design considerations/limitations in marine mammal biotelemetry
12) Biotelemetry and biologging with Svalbard’s marine mammals – case studies
13) Linking marine mammal telemetry & the environment - MAMVIS & statistical tools
14) Remote methods in sea bird research – transponders, photographic & case studies
15) Fish tracking
16) Physiological telemetry - applications and potential
17) Looking into the future....

Teaching methods and activities:
The course extends over 4 weeks in combination with AB-325.

Total lecture hours: ca. 35 hours.
Total demonstration and exercises hours: 25 hours.
Excursions: 3-4 excursion days.

Compulsory assignment:
All course activities are compulsory. Students will attend lectures, seminars, computer workshops, demonstrations, field exercises etc. Additionally, students will present research seminars, oral reports from course activities and literature critiques and participate in lab practicals. PhD students will in addition draft applications for research funding of a telemetry-based project.


Method Time
Percentage of final grade
Research proposal  
10 %
Oral exam  
90 %


All assessments must be fulfilled in order to receive a final grade.


Application deadline: 15. October 2014



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