Integrating direct observation and GPS tracking to monitor animal behavior for resource management

  • Chelsey Walden-Schreiner
  • Yu-Fai Leung
  • Tim Kuhn
  • Todd Newburger


Monitoring the behavior of pack animals in protected areas informs management about use patterns and the potential associated negative impacts. However, systematic assessments of behavior are uncommon due to methodological and logistical constraints. This study integrated behavior mapping with GPS tracking, and applied behavior change point analysis, as an approach to monitor the behaviors of pack animals during overnight periods. The integrated approach identified multiple grazing patterns (i.e., locally intense grazing, ambulatory grazing) not feasible through a single methodology alone. Monitoring behavior and corresponding environmental conditions aid managers in implementing strategies designed to mitigate impacts associated with pack animals in natural areas. Results also contrast the influence of temporal scale on behavior segmentation to inform decisions for further monitoring and management of domestic animal use and impacts in natural areas. This integrated approach reduced time and logistical constraints of each method individually to promote ongoing monitoring and highlight how multiple management tactics could reduce impacts to sensitive habitats.


Behavior change point analysis (BCPA) Grazing Horse Mule Yosemite national park 



The USDI National Park Service supported this work under the Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit Task Agreement P14AC01493.

The authors thank collaborators who provided time and expertise to this project, including NPS Resources Management and Science staff L. Austin, E. Babich, J. Baccei, M. Booher, A. Dickenson, L. Jones, M. Marschall, L. Mazzu, and A. Puchkoff; NPS Wranglers T. Bernacchi, R. Colflesh, and R. Fredy; S. Ostoja from the USGS/USFS; and D. Johnson, G. Alexander, and A. Day from Oregon State University. From North Carolina State University, we thank L. Tateosian, T. Wentworth, and S. Nelson for their input on the analysis and reviews of the manuscript, and R. Kays for his feedback on analytical approaches for movement data. Finally, thank you to the peer reviewers whose comments improved the overall manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

All applicable international, national, and institutional guidelines (e.g., Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)) for the care and use of animals were followed.

Supplementary material

10661_2018_6463_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1 mb)
Online Resource 1 (DOCX 1070 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism ManagementNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  2. 2.Division of Resources Management and ScienceU.S. National Park Service, Yosemite National ParkEl PortalUSA

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