Design considerations for wildlife monitoring networks

Meijers, Jan Pieter (2015-03)

Thesis (MEng)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Studying wild animals in nature is a complex and tedious task for biologists and ecologists. The rugged terrain in which the animals live and hide makes it for researchers difficult to follow and observe the animals. Technology is used to facilitate studies on animals, usually in the form of radio tracking devices. This thesis discusses the problems and shortfalls surrounding the current technology and looks at various ways of improving it. Expanding tracking collars to capture the needed data, as well as improving the radio links to continuously provide data, are seen as the most important improvements. The proposed solution makes use of a wireless network, through which a tracking collar can have an unbroken connection with the outside world. The study focuses on the radio links themselves and topics including antennas, radio frequency bands and propagation effects of the surroundings. An existing routing protocol to use on top of the physical radio links is discussed. Hardware for all parts of the network is designed, built and tested. Proper ways of capturing data in a power efficient way are stated and recommended. Measurements were taken with the hardware prototypes in a location comparable to where the system will ultimately be used. The results obtained proved the feasibility of such a radio network. Radio coverage simulations were set up to predict the coverage that is to be expected by the chosen radios in the location where the tests were done. The simulation parameters were changed until the simulated results most closely matched the real life measurements. Vegetation caused an extra attenuation of around 20dB in the radio signal. Using the tuned parameters for the simulation a network can be designed and costs calculated before huge investments are made.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Om wilde diere in die natuur te bestudeer is vir wetenskaplikes ’n uitdagende onderneming. Die ongerepte natuur waarin die diere bly, maak dit vir die dierkundiges moeilik om die diere op te spoor en te agtervolg. Tegnologie word gewoonlik ingespan in hierdie studies en meestal word radiosporingstoestelle gebruik. Hierdie tesis bespreek die probleme en tekortkominge in die bestaande tegnologie. Verskeie moontlike verbeteringe word bekyk. Radiosporingshalsbande wat uitgebrei word om metings te neem, en verbetering van die radioverbindings met die halsbande is twee van die belangrikste punte waarop verbeter kan word. In die voorgestelde verbeterings word ’n radionetwerk gebruik om op ’n deurlopende basis kontak tussen die halsbande en die buitewêreld te verseker. Die studies lê klem op die radioverbindings en onderwerpe soos antennas en radiofrekwensiebande. Radioseine se voortplantingskenmerke in die betrokke omgewing word bespreek. ’n Bestaande netwerkprotokol om op die radioverbindings te implementeer word ook bepsreek. Apparatuur vir alle dele van die netwerk is ontwerp, gebou en getoets. Metodes van datavaslegging op ’n energiedoeltreffende wyse word beskryf en aanbevelings daarvoor gemaak. Metings is geneem met die prototipe van die apparate in ’n plek wat vergelykbaar is met waar die uiteindelike stelsel gebruik behoort te word. Die resulte wat verkry is, het die nut van die radionetwerk bewys. Simulasies van die radiodekking is opgestel om die verwagte dekkings van die betrokke radios in die veld te bepaal. Die simulasieparameters is geleidelik verander totdat die simulasieresultate met die werklike metings ooreenstem. Plantegroei het ’n ekstra verswakking van ongeveer 20dB in die radiosein veroorsaak. Die vasgestelde parameters kan gebruik word in ’n simulasie vir die ontwerp van ’n grootskaalse netwerk. Resultate verkry vanuit die simulasie kan gebruik word vir kosteberekings voordat grootskaalse beleggings gemaak word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/96933
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