Biology Spotlight - April 2016
B.K. Sandercock collaborated and has published a new research article from a large international collaboration of researchers working with migratory shorebirds worldwide. The goal of the project was to examine the potential effects of marking birds with small geolocator tags to track their long-distance migratory movements. The encouraging results were that geolocator tags have little effect on survival and movements of most species as they moved from the arctic to the tropics, which provides assurance that tracks of migratory movements are likely to be unbiased. Negative impacts of tags were detected for a few small-bodied species of sandpipers, and we make specific recommendations for attachment methods to reduce impacts and improve animal care in the future.
Collaborators from Kansas State University included a research team who worked with migratory shorebirds at field sites at Nome, Alaska. Research funding to B.K. Sandercock (PI) included grants from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, National Science Foundation (Office of Polar Programs), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act program). Publication of this open access article was generously funded in part by the Kansas State University Open Access Publishing Fund, established by the Office of the Provost.
Geolocator attachment methods used in our field studies of arctic-breeding shorebirds:
(a) Mounted on a leg band and parallel to the leg on a semipalmated sandpiper (left) and red knot (right);
(b) mounted on a leg-flag and perpendicular to the leg on a sanderling (left) and semipalmated sandpiper (right);
(c) mounted on a leg flag and parallel to the leg on a gray-tailed tattler; and
(d) mounted on the back with leg-loop harness on a black turnstone.