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GPS monitoring reveals circadian rhythmicity in free-grazing sheep

By Javier Plaza, Carlos Palacios, José Alfonso Abecia, Jaime Nieto, Mario Sánchez-García, Nilda Sánchez

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Abstract

GPS collars are a technology that is used extensively to monitor livestock due to its versatility. In this study, the main objective was to confirm whether they can detect the circadian rhythmicity that modulates the behavior of free-grazing sheep. The Churra-breed flock that was monitored grazed an approx. 166-ha fenced area within a dehesa ecosystem in the northwestern Iberian Peninsula. Geolocations were recorded every 30 min for two years. Animal activities were categorized based on the speed; an animal was “moving” if the speed was > 0 m/s (the analyzed category), and “resting” if the speed was 0 m/s. Sheep grazing activity in terms of their speed, azimuth, and distance traveled, was subjected to a circadian adjustment derived from the online Cosinor tool. Results reveal that the flock activity, whether based on speed, distance traveled, or azimuth, fit a circadian rhythmicity (p 

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 251
Pages 105643
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2022.105643
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Tags
  1. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  2. Global positioning systems