Emu Emu Society
Journal of BirdLife Australia

Effects of satellite telemetry on Sooty Shearwater, Puffinus griseus, adults and chicks

Emu 103(4) 373 - 379
Published: 17 December 2003


The effects of imitation satellite transmitters (ISTs) were investigated to solve preliminary and logistic problems before embarking on a costly and long-term satellite-telemetry experiment. Imitation satellite transmitters were attached to Sooty Shearwater, Puffinus griseus, adults during the pre-breeding (n = 43) and mid-breeding period (n = 49) of the 1999/2000 breeding season at Taiaroa Head, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand. Adult mass of IST-carrying adults reduced on average by 8.3% at recapture during the pre-breeding period, but not during the mid-breeding period. No significant difference was found between IST-carrying and non-IST-carrying birds in the probability of attending the colony on a given night during pre-breeding. Yet, a 40% reduction of colony attendance by IST-carrying and handled non-IST-carrying birds indicates that, in addition to having an IST attached, handling also has a significant effect on breeding birds during hatching. However, attachment of ISTs had no effect on chick condition. Attachment of satellite transmitters or handling of breeding birds around hatching should be avoided as it appears to impact adult behaviour and therefore does not accurately represent movement measures determined from satellite-tracking studies.


© Royal Australian Ornithologists Union 2003

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