Skip to main content

Revealing the hidden lives of underground animals using magneto−inductive tracking

Andrew Markham‚ Niki Trigoni‚ Stephen A. Ellwood and David W. Macdonald


Currently, there is no existing method for automatically tracking the location of burrowing animals when they are underground, consequently zoologists only have a partial view of their subterranean behaviour and habits. Conventional RF based methods of localization are unsuitable because electromagnetic waves are severely attenuated by soil and moisture. Here, we use an as yet unexploited method of localization, namely magneto-inductive (MI) localization. Magnetic fields are not affected by soil or water, and thus have virtually unattenuated ground penetration. In this paper, we present a method that allows the position of an animal to be determined through soil. Not only does this enable the study of behaviour, it also allows the structure of the tunnel to be automatically mapped as the animal moves through it. We describe the application for tracking wild European Badgers (Meles meles) within their burrows, providing experimental data from a two month deployment.

Book Title
8th ACM Conference on Embedded Networked Sensor Systems (Sensys 2010). Zurich‚ Switzerland