Long-billed Dowitcher Migration Ecology

Dowitchers 1Figure 1: Long-billed Dowitcher with coded transmitter (NTQB-4-2)

Understanding stopover strategies and migratory connectivity for habitat conservation


Migratory shorebirds rely on a network of wetlands spread across large landscapes during their annual cycle. During migration, shorebirds will stopover at specific wetland complexes for different purposes and lengths of time. Understanding stopover strategies at these complexes, and pathways between stopovers and wintering areas, are imperative to inform effective habitat management and conservation strategies. This is especially true for shorebirds that use inland migratory routes where water is a finite resource and often highly managed.

Point Blue scientists captured 81 Long-billed Dowitchers (Limnodromus scolopaceus) during August-September 2012 and 2013 in the Klamath Basin, a migratory stopover along the Oregon-California border. They assessed flight feather molt status and attached VHF radio-tags (Lotek coded nanotags) to determine (1) their length of stay in the region and (2) winter destinations in California’s Central Valley.

Read more: Long-billed Dowitcher Migration Ecology

Silver-haired Bat Migratory Stopover Ecology

case study longpoint batRadio-tagged silver-haired bat


Several species of bats make annual long-distance migrations, but questions about if/how bats use stopover sites to rest and refuel remain unanswered. Silver-haired bats (Lasionycteris noctivagans) are a widespread migratory North American species. Previous study has suggested Long Point, Ontario (north shore of Lake Erie) as a potential stopover site for this species.

We captured silver-haired bats during fall migration at Long Point and used a digital radio-telemetry array to monitor their movements over an area ~ 20 x 40 km, documenting stopover duration, and departure direction. The question of whether bats flew across Lake Erie was a particular concern given proposed offshore wind energy development on Lake Erie.


Read more: Silver-haired Bat Migratory Stopover Ecology

Automated Datalogging Case Study

automated datalogging 0

Cape Gannets, Morus capensis, South Africa
Automated long-term monitoring for time-activity budgets

Climate-driven and anthropogenic pressures are increasing on fish stocks, which is linked to Seabird demographics, diet and particularly foraging behaviour. Seabirds, such as Cape Gannets, can respond to variations in prey availability by adjusting their time-activity budgets.

In this study, a long-term method for monitoring timeactivity budgets using leg-ring-mounted VHF tags and datalogging receivers is tested.

Cape Gannets breed colonially, are long-lived and highly site faithful (breeding/nesting), so are an ideal species for trialling this monitoring method.


Read more: Automated Datalogging Case Study

Radio-tracking Case Study

radio tracking 0Photo courtesy of Davorin Tome

Whinchats, Saxicola rubetra, Slovenia
Survival & predator avoidance in the post-fledgling period

It is well known that European populations of farmland birds, are decreasing due to modern agricultural practices. The ‘stay-and-hide’ strategy for predator avoidance is ineffective against agricultural mowing machinery.

In the study area, Ljubljansko barje, Slovenia, the Whinchat population has decreased by 50% in the last 10 years. Mortality caused by earlier mowing is highly responsible for this decline, after habitat change and reduced invertebrate food.Survival and behavioural data in juvenile Whinchats after fledgling is limited so the aims of this study were to…

Read more: Radio-tracking Case Study

Ovenbird-PinPoint case study

Figure 1. Ovenbird with PinPoint-10
GPS tag - Maryland, US.


The strength of migratory connectivity, the degree to which migratory individuals are arranged geographically during two or more stages of the annual cycle, remains largely unknown for most migratory bird species. Yet, over 75% of bird species that breed in the northern temperate zone are migratory to some degree. Knowing the strength of migratory connectivity is critical for understanding population dynamics, seasonal interactions, life history strategies and implementing effective conservation strategies.

Read more: Ovenbird-PinPoint case study

Project Update - N/a’an ku sê Research Programme

cheetah2Monitoring of 4 Namibian cheetahs with Sirtrack GPS Collars

The monitoring of perceived conflict cheetahs in Namibia continues with research technology support from Sirtrack.

Currently, four cheetahs are followed intensively and provide valuable ecological data as well as management information.

Read more: Project Update - N/a’an ku sê Research Programme

Unlocking the Secrets of Little Spotted Kiwi

Helen Taylor with adult male little spotted kiwi wearing Sirtrack tagHelen Taylor with adult male little spotted kiwi wearing Sirtrack tagOver the past year, Sirtrack has been working with Helen Taylor, a PhD student at the Allan Wilson Centre at Victoria University of Wellington on her research into inbreeding and reproductive success in little spotted kiwi (Apteryx owenii).

The smallest of New Zealand’s five species of kiwi, little spots are also the second rarest with just 1,600 individuals remaining, all of which are descended from five individuals translocated to Kapiti Island in the early 1900s. This extreme bottleneck has resulted in very low genetic diversity in little spotted kiwi and it’s unclear what effect this and subsequent inbreeding might be having on the future survival prospects of this species.


Read more: Unlocking the Secrets of Little Spotted Kiwi

Forest Birds of Kaua´i

Young Pu-Lucas BehnkePhoto courtesy of Lucas BehnkeSirtrack Helps to Study the Critically Endangered Forest Birds of Kaua‘i Sirtack recently teamed up with KFBRP (Kaua‘i Forest Bird Recovery Project)  to help study one of the rarest birds in Hawai‘i by providing radio transmitters.

Read more: Forest Birds of Kaua´i

Working with Naankuse

NaankuseSirtrack are proud to be associated with the N/a’an ku sê wildlife sanctuary in Africa. Marlice van Vuuren, one of Namibia´s most well known conservationist, together with her husband Dr. Rudie van Vuuren and their pharmacist friend Chris Heunis started N/a’an ku sê Lodge & Wildlife Sanctuary in 2007.

Read more: Working with Naankuse

Journey of the Emperor Chick

Wienecke emp fledling with trackerwebsitePhoto courtesy of Barbara WieneckeBarbara Wienecke of the Australian Antarctic Division has been researching the behaviour of emperor penguins using Sirtrack KiwiSat 202 PTTs.

Barbara Wienecke, B Raymond and G Robertson have been studying the at-sea distribution of fledgling emperor penguins with fledglings being satellite tracked on their maiden voyage from colonies at Taylor Glacier and Auster.

Sirtrack working with Emperor Penguin "Happy Feet"

Happy FeetEmperor Penguin arrival at Peka Peka BeachEmperor Penguin Happy Feet was found on Peka Peka Beach in June and has since captivated the nations hearts.

Happy Feet is being treated by specialists in New Zealand under the auspices of the Wellington Zoo. and experts from the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Te Papa are assisting with assessing when Happy Feet will be ready to re-enter the wild.

Read more: Sirtrack working with Emperor Penguin "Happy Feet"

Kangaroo Research Using GPS Collars

Blackspot at Wanniassa HillsBlackspot the kangaroo at Waniassa Hills, ACT, Australia.Don Fletcher and Claire Wimpenny of the Conservation Planning and Research Unit in ACT, Australia, are researching the behaviour of kangaroos using GPS collars. Here’s a report on the research so far:

Australia´s capital city, Canberra, is home to thousands of eastern grey kangaroos. They dwell in the urban nature reserves and open space areas, often venturing into the suburban areas to feed at night.

Read more: Kangaroo Research Using GPS Collars

Cheetah Conservation Fund

cheetahAn endangered Namibian cheetahThe world's fastest land mammal the cheetah is losing its race for survival. Once common throughout Africa and Asia the cheetah is now on the endangered list. Today the species is extinct from more than 20 countries and it is estimated that only 10,000 to 12,500 animals remain.

Read more: Cheetah Conservation Fund

Tarly the loggerhead turtle

Tarly´s release by Kelly Tarlton and Sirtrack staffTarly´s release by Kelly Tarlton and Sirtrack staffIn November 2007 an injured female loggerhead turtle was washed up on Baylys Beach in the north west of New Zealand. She was rescued by Department of Conservation staff and delivered to Kelly Tarlton Antarctic Encounter Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre in Auckland in an effort to nurse her back to full strength.

Read more: Tarly the loggerhead turtle

Rafael the turtle and Australia Zoo

Rafael and BindiRafael and BindiRafael, a 120kg adult male loggerhead turtle was rescued by Australia Zoo conservation staff in 2009 after he was spotted floating off–shore with a crab pot line entangled around his neck and flipper.

Read more: Rafael the turtle and Australia Zoo

Tracking crocodiles with Australia Zoo


Steve Irwin & Dr. Mark Read with a KiwiSat PTT on a croc. Image © The Best Picture Show CompanySteve Irwin & Dr. Mark Read with a KiwiSat PTT on a croc. Image © The Best Picture Show CompanyIn August 2007, Australia Zoo joined forces with The University of Queensland and Queensland Parks and Wildlife to track the movements and behaviour of estuarine crocodiles.

Read more: Tracking crocodiles with Australia Zoo

Saving kiwi at Lake Waikaremoana

Sirtrack´s Kate Dickson with a brown kiwiSirtrack´s Kate Dickson with a brown kiwiThe Lake Waikaremoana Hapu Restoration Trust manages the local kiwi conservation work at Lake Waikaremoana in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. Research has shown that at least ninety percent of juvenile kiwi on the mainland fails to reach adulthood. Pests such as stoats are attributed as the main cause of the decline for kiwi located in mainland forests.

Read more: Saving kiwi at Lake Waikaremoana

Meerkat in the Kalahari

Courtesy Dr. Tom FlowersCourtesy Dr. Tom FlowersThe Kalahari Meerkat Project is a long–term research project focussing on meerkat populations in Africa’s Kalahari Desert. The project aims to gain more understanding of the evolution of cooperative behaviour.

Read more: Meerkat in the Kalahari