Through the eye of a Gobi khulan –Application of camera collars for ecological research of far-ranging species in remote and highly variable ecosystems
The Mongolian Gobi-Eastern Steppe Ecosystem is one of the largest remaining natural drylands and home to a unique assemblage of migratory ungulates. Connectivity and integrity of this ecosystem are at risk if increasing human activities are not carefully planned and regulated. The Gobi part supports the largest remaining population of the Asiatic wild ass (Equus hemionus; locally called “khulan”). Individual khulan roam over areas of thousands of square kilometers and the scale of their movements is among the largest described for terrestrial mammals, making them particularly difficult to monitor. Although GPS satellite telemetry makes it possible to track animals in near-real time and remote sensing provides environmental data at the landscape scale, remotely collected data also harbors the risk of missing important abiotic or biotic environmental variables or life history events. We tested the potential of animal borne camera systems (“camera collars”) to improve our understanding of the drivers and limitations of khulan movements. Download the open access paper here.