Increasing accuracy: a new design and algorithm for automatically measuring weights, travel direction and radio frequency identification (RFID) of penguins.
A fully automated weighbridge using a new algorithm and mechanics integrated with a Radio Frequency Identification System is described. It is currently in use collecting data on Macaroni penguins (Eudyptes chrysolophus) at Bird Island, South Georgia. The technology allows researchers to collect very large, highly accurate datasets of both penguin weight and direction of their travel into or out of a breeding colony, providing important contributory information to help understand penguin breeding success, reproductive output and availability of prey. Reliable discrimination between single and multiple penguin crossings is demonstrated. Passive radio frequency tags implanted into penguins allow researchers to match weight and trip direction to individual birds. Low unit and operation costs, low maintenance needs, simple operator requirements and accurate time stamping of every record are all important features of this type of weighbridge, as is its proven ability to operate 24 hours a day throughout a breeding season, regardless of temperature or weather conditions. Users are able to define required levels of accuracy by adjusting filters and raw data are automatically recorded and stored allowing for a range of processing options. This paper presents the underlying principles, design specification and system description, provides evidence of the weighbridge’s accurate performance and demonstrates how its design is a significant improvement on existing systems