Thesis subject

MSc thesis subject: Testing and developing a new high-tech tracking systems for animals

In co-operation with several other research groups, REG is currently engaged in the development of new hard- and software for tracking movement and behaviour of animals (E-track programme).

We now have new GPS-collars that, besides the GPS receiver, also have 3D accelerometers, which will enable us to record activity, movements, and acceleration in three dimensions. The aim is to test under field conditions this new tracking hardware, and develop a statistical model to automatically predict behaviour from these GPS and activity data. 10 cattle will be fitted with the new GNSS technology in an open field of three hectares, and in a forested area with semi-wild cattle. In a first analysis in 2013 we have only used the GPS data and were able to deduce behaviour of cattle from these data with a 75% accuracy.


  • Visual observations of behaviour of the cattle will be carried out, using a handheld Psion-computer and Pocket Observer software (Noldus).
  • The challenge will be to analyse movement patterns of cattle, and predict behaviour on the basis of differences in movement patterns, such as speed, movement angles and activity, as measured with the 3D accelerometers.
  • One of the tasks will be to incorporate the 3D accelerometer data and to calculate how much this data can contribute in improving our behaviour classification. Another task is to calculate what the optimum interval is for the behaviour registration and the analysis of the movement data.
  • And thirdly, we would like to test the equipment on sick cows, to test whether the equipment and analysis can be used to distinguish sick from healthy cows.
  • The MSc student will carry out the field work (as from May) and carry out the data analysis.

Expected knowledge and skills

  • We expect that you will bring knowledge, experiences and curiosity concerning GIS tools (including model building / scripts), Animal Ecology and Ecological Methods 1.
  • GRS33306 will be supportive to.

References and literature

Theme: Human – space interaction