Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

An experimental evaluation of the effects of geolocator design and attachment method on between-year survival on Whinchats Saxicola rubetra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

DOI

Open Access permissions

Open

Author(s)

Emma Blackburn, Malcolm Burgess, Ben Freeman, Alice Risely, Arin Izang, Samuel Tertese Ivande, Chris Hewson, Will Cresswell

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Data from location logging tags have revolutionised our understanding of migration ecology, but methods of tagging that do not compromise survival need to be identified. We compared resighting rates for 156 geolocator-tagged and 316 colour ringed-only whinchats on their African wintering grounds after migration to and from eastern Europe in two separate years. We experimentally varied both light stalk length (0, 5 and 10 mm) and harness material (elastic or non-elastic nylon braid tied on, leg-loop ‘Rappole’ harnesses) in the second year using a reasonably balanced design (all tags in the first year used an elastic harness and 10 mm light stalk). Tags weighed 0.63 g (0.01 SE), representing 4.1% of average body mass. There was no overall significant reduction in between-year resighting rate (our proxy for survival) comparing tagged and untagged birds in either year. When comparing within tagged birds, however, using a tied harness significantly reduced resighting rate by 53% on average compared to using an elastic harness (in all models), but stalk length effects were not statistically significant in any model considered. There was no strong evidence that the fit (relative tightness) or added tag mass affected survival, although tied tags were fitted more tightly later in the study, and birds fitted with tied tags later may have had lower survival. Overall, on a precautionary principle, deploying tags with non-elastic tied harnesses should be avoided because the necessary fit, so as not to reduce survival, is time-consuming to achieve and does not necessarily improve with experience. Geolocator tags of the recommended percentage of body mass fitted with elastic leg-loop harnesses and with short light stalks can be used without survival effects in small long-distance migrant birds.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)530-539
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Avian Biology
Volume47
Issue number4
Early online date1 Feb 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016

    Research areas

  • Paleartic migrant, Migration, Tag effect, Rappole harness

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Seasonal differences in baseline innate immune function are better explained by environment than annual cycle stage in a year-round breeding tropical songbird

    Nwaogu, C. J., Cresswell, W., Versteegh, M. A. & Tieleman, B. I., 6 Feb 2019, In : Journal of Animal Ecology. Early View, 17 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Temperature and aridity determine body size conformity to Bergmann’s rule independent of latitudinal differences in a tropical environment

    Nwaogu, C. J., Tieleman, B. I., Bitrus, K. & Cresswell, W. R. L., Oct 2018, In : Journal of Ornithology. 159, 4, p. 1053–1062 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Weak breeding seasonality of a songbird in a seasonally arid tropical environment arises from individual flexibility and strongly seasonal moult

    Nwaogu, C. J., Tieleman, B. I. & Cresswell, W., 22 Sep 2018, In : Ibis. Early View, 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Spring migration strategies of Whinchat Saxicola rubetra when successfully crossing potential barriers of the Sahara and the Mediterranean Sea

    Blackburn, E., Burgess, M., Freeman, B., Risely, A., Izang, A., Ivande, S., Hewson, C. & Cresswell, W., 2 May 2018, In : Ibis. Early View

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Journal of Avian Biology (Journal)

    Will Cresswell (Reviewer)
    23 Mar 2018

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

Related by journal

  1. Breeding limits foraging time: evidence of interrupted foraging response from body mass variation in a tropical environment

    Nwaogu, C. J., Dietz, M. W., Tieleman, B. I. & Cresswell, W., Apr 2017, In : Journal of Avian Biology. 48, 4, p. 563-569 7 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Cyprus wheatears Oenanthe cypriaca likely reach sub-Saharan African wintering grounds in a single migratory flight

    Xenophontos, M., Blackburn, E. & Cresswell, W., Apr 2017, In : Journal of Avian Biology. 48, 4, p. 529-535 7 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Foraging behaviour and fuel accumulation of capital breeders during spring migration as derived from a combination of satellite- and ground-based observations

    Chudzińska, M. E., Nabe-Nielsen, J., Nolet, B. A. & Madsen, J., Jul 2016, In : Journal of Avian Biology. 47, 4, p. 563-574 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 236724837