With the help of GPS technology, researchers now know how a group of koalas in Australia survived a nearby brushfire.

If the researchers from the University of Queensland hadn’t fitted koalas with global positioning systems (GPS) trackers prior to the brush fire that broke out in Queensland, they might not know how they managed to survive the fire.The koalas were being tracked by GPS tracking devices to learn more about their natural habitat, eating habits and food sources, and their general movements throughout the day.

In January, when a brushfire made its way through Stradbroke Island in Brisbane, the researchers expected their study to be over and the koalas be a victim of the fires. However, when they returned to the area once the smoke had cleared, they found their koalas safe and well.

With the help of the GPS tracking technology, we not only know that koalas are cute and cuddly. But they’re smart too. The scientists figured out that the koalas were astute enough to escape the fires by hiding out near a stream until the fires were out.

Dr. William Ellis, head researcher for the institute in Queensland, told reporters he doesn’t yet know if they have managed to develop important survival skills, or if it was just luck that when they attempted to escape, they managed to find refuge in the stream. He said,

“Obviously the koalas, even when they’re really close to where the fire is really hot, if they’re in the right place at the right time, they will survive.”

Koalas are a herbivorous marsupial animal that live in Australia, most closely related to wombats. They are typically found in the coastal area of Australia, such as Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, and Queensland as the koalas in this study are.

Most koalas live in the woodlands area, eating leaves of eucalyptus trees as their main food source. Due to the limited food sources, they are mostly sedentary and sleep approximately 20 hours a day.

Bonding of koalas, as researchers have figured out, only exists with the offspring and their mothers. Male koalas in their adult years typically communicate with loud sounds as to intimidate their rival adult male koalas, and attract the females.

Now that they have survived the brushfires, more data will be collected as the GPS tracking study continues. Ellis hopes to find out how they cope in natural disasters, surprise attacks, and adapt following these disasters in their natural habitats.

Due to the brushfire and now tracking the koalas afterwards, Ellis and his research team have an inside look into how exactly the koalas adapt following a natural disaster. It is rare and something they couldn’t have predicted.

“It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that koalas do know when danger is approaching and take precautions,” Ellis said.

Just like distribution and delivery businesses can benefit from incorporating GPS tracking into their business vehicles, seasonal businesses, such as lawn care services, pool-cleaning companies, and snow removal companies can too. In fact, these services may benefit more than other similar services.

Why is that? Because the window of time for these businesses to operate is so limited that every dollar must pull double duty.

Lawn Care Services

The landscaping services industry is estimated to become an $80.6 billion industry by 2015, according toLandscapeOnline.com. Most landscaping companies rely heavily on service routes that they work week after week in order to maintain lawns during the summer months. In states that have more months of summer-like weather, the seasons are longer, but most U.S. states have some sort of winter, where this industry is less widely utilized.

This means that saving money is as important as investing money into the business. GPS tracking for seasonal businesses allows your landscaping company to reap the rewards, such as

  • Better route planning and dispatching
  •  Improved fuel efficiency
  •  Reduced labor costs
  • Increased productivity
  •  Lower insurance rates
  •  And more

These savings, in and of themselves, are substantial. When you combine them, however, the savings are even more impressive.

Verification of services and time spent on the location is another big benefit to keep in mind if disputes should arise over billing practices. GPS fleet tracking backs up your business in these instances too — even providing documents you can present as evidence in court.

Snow Removal Services

Just like landscaping services, snow removal business owners must also work to maximize savings. While it’s generally obvious that snow removal services have performed their assigned duties, there are still times when issues over billing crops up. GPS tracking helps snow plow removal in ways that put client’s minds at rest — especially after busy snow removal seasons.

Snow removal companies face unique challenges as not everyone is on retainer. Some people only call in for services once the snow begins to fall. This leaves you with a bit of a logistical nightmare without GPS tracking capabilities. However, with GPS fleet tracking you can easily see where all your trucks are, pinpoint areas calling in for service as they come and schedule your drivers next destinations according to which is the most fuel efficient option.

Snow removal trucks are vulnerable to the whims of Mother Nature just as any other vehicles on the road. There are weather conditions when, despite the need for clear roads, it’s unsafe for these vehicles to be on the road. GPS tracking can help you track the weather along with your fleet movements so you can let your drivers know when it’s time to come in and wait for the worst of the storm to pass before getting back to work.

The Takeaway

Seasonal businesses offer necessary services in a somewhat limited window of time. For this reason alone, they must find new and innovative ways to cut costs in a world where fuel and other operating expenses are on the rise. GPS tracking is a great tool for accomplishing this and so much more.

Researchers use GPS tracking to find out more about the newly increased population of Snowy Owls in Maryland.

The Snowy Owl is an elusive bird that is native to Canada, though it can be found in various locations around the United States as well. It is also the official bird for Quebec, a province in Canada. While its classification is still not confirmed, experts believe it to be closely related to the Bubo horned owls. They can travel thousands of miles on their own and typically do when the seasons change.

One of the snowy owls being tracked, Hungerford, did just that when she traveled from the Arctic tundra to the coast of Maryland in the fall. In the winter, researchers found her and have been tracking her activity, along with other owls involved in a study.

While they are some of the largest birds that can be found in North America, there is little information about them. They don’t generally like to be around humans and spend most of their time in the Arctic Circle, only moving to the United States in the winter.

Usually, humans rarely see them, but this past winter it all changed. Residents began seeing them around Thanksgiving in Georgia, Kentuck,and Nebraska. A biologist, Dave Brinker, who works for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources saw two of them on a Maryland beach, which is practically unheard of. Brinker knew this was something that might not happen again and he wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about these interesting birds.

There is currently a fast population boom going in with the snowy owls, called an irruption. This is the biggest population of these birds that have been seen in 40-50 years. The source of more snowy owls breeding is thanks to a growing population of lemmings, which are the rodents that snowy owls eat more than other food sources. With more lemmings available, snowy owls have been able to survive longer and grow a large population, which might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

This new research project is called Project Snowstorm and is being lead by Brinker and Scott Weidensaul. Two dozen solar-powered GPS trackers have been purchased following a crowdfunding event that helped raise $36,000.

 The owls were tracked by visiting places they had been seen before, especially areas they knew the owls waited for their prey. After setting a trap and waiting, they were able to capture the owls and place a GPS tracking device on them.

 The GPS trackers are solar powered and are very lightweight, as to not bother the owls. Brinker said they notice it at first but quickly adjust to it. Now that their activity and movement is being tracked, they have set up awebsite where anyone can track the path of  the snowy owls.

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