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Evidence that dorsally mounted satellite transmitters affect migration chronology of Northern Pintails

October 1, 2015

We compared migration movements and chronology between Northern Pintails (Anas acuta) marked with dorsally mounted satellite transmitters and pintails marked only with tarsus rings. During weekly intervals of spring and autumn migration between their wintering area in Japan and nesting areas in Russia, the mean distance that ringed pintails had migrated was up to 1000 km farther than the mean distance radiomarked pintails migrated. Radiomarked pintails were detected at spring migration sites on average 9.9 days (90 % CI 8.0, 11.8) later than ringed pintails that were recovered within 50 km. Although ringed and radiomarked pintails departed from Japan on similar dates, the disparity in detection of radiomarked versus ringed pintails at shared sites increased 7.7 days (90 % CI 5.2, 10.2) for each 1000 km increase in distance from Japan. Thus, pintails marked with satellite transmitters arrived at nesting areas that were 2500 km from Japan on average 19 days later than ringed birds. Radiomarked pintails were detected at autumn migration stopovers on average 13.1 days (90 % CI 9.8, 16.4) later than ringed birds that were recovered within 50 km. We hypothesize that dorsal attachment of 12–20 g satellite transmitters to Northern Pintails increased the energetic cost of flight, which resulted in more rapid depletion of energetic reserves and shortened the distance pintails could fly without refueling. Radiomarked pintails may have used more stopovers or spent longer periods at stopovers. causing their migration schedule to diverge from ringed pintails. We urge further evaluation of the effects of dorsally mounted transmitters on migration chronology of waterfowl.

Publication Year 2015
Title Evidence that dorsally mounted satellite transmitters affect migration chronology of Northern Pintails
DOI 10.1007/s10336-015-1218-1
Authors Jerry W. Hupp, Sergei Kharitonov, Noriyuki M. Yamaguchi, K. Ozaki, Paul L. Flint, John M. Pearce, Ken-ichi Tokita, Tetsuo Shimada, Hiroyoshi Higuchi
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Ornithology
Index ID 70168422
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Science Center Biology WTEB