Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Use of satellite telemetry on small-bodied waterfowl in Australia

David A. Roshier A C and Martin W. Asmus A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Institute for Land, Water & Society, Charles Sturt University, Albury, Australia.

B Present address: Department of Primary Industries, Narrandera, NSW, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: droshier@csu.edu.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 60(4) 299-305 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF08152
Submitted: 11 May 2008  Accepted: 25 October 2008   Published: 29 April 2009

Abstract

The nomadic or dispersive movements of many Australian waterfowl in response to irregular environmental cues make satellite telemetry studies the only means by which these long-distance movements can be tracked in real time. Unlike some large-bodied soaring species, attaching satellite transmitters to small-bodied waterfowl (<1 kg) is not straightforward because ducks have high wing loadings and need to maintain active flapping to stay aloft. In the present paper, we detail one harness design and attachment method that enabled us to track grey teal (Anas gracilis) for up to 879 days. In addition, we detail rates of data loss, changes in data quality over time and variation in data quality from solar-powered satellite-tags deployed on ducks in Australia and Papua New Guinea. Up to 68% of all locational fixes have a nominal accuracy of less than 1 km, and satellite-tags deployed on wild birds can provide up to 22 location fixes per day and store enough energy during the day to run continuously throughout the night.


Acknowledgements

Our thanks to Brendan Ebner for inviting us to contribute to this special issue. We also thank Wagga Wagga City Council and Tony Smith for allowing us to use the aviary facilities in the Wagga Wagga Botanical Gardens; John Smith for access to his aviary facilities for quarantine; Errol Nye, Richard Page and Jessica Newton for data collection; Rooney G. Plastics of Wagga Wagga for manufacture of dummy transmitters; and Nicholas Klomp for sharing his experience with attachment methods. The manuscript was greatly improved by comments from Andrew Boulton and two anonymous referees. This research was undertaken under NSW National Parks and Wildlife Scientific Licence numbers S10426 and 3244 and Charles Sturt University Animal Care and Ethics Approval No. 01/061.We gratefully acknowledge the funding of this project by the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation UCS34A and the Australian Research Council LP0347040.


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