Emu Emu Society
Journal of BirdLife Australia

A new method for the long-term attachment of data-loggers to shearwaters (Procellariidae)

Mark J. Carey A B , Catherine E. Meathrel A and Nicholas A. May A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Environmental Management and Ecology, La Trobe University, Wodonga, Vic. 3690, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: m.carey@latrobe.edu.au

Emu 109(4) 310-315 https://doi.org/10.1071/MU09059
Submitted: 2 July 2009  Accepted: 21 October 2009   Published: 4 December 2009


Recent advances in tracking technology (i.e. smaller and lighter devices) have enabled long deployments, of up to 12 months or more, on shearwaters (Procellariidae). These deployments have been successfully used to examine migration patterns, wintering sites and non-breeding ranges as well as at-sea activity. Hence, an effective method for the long-term deployment of tracking devices that is able to withstand UV radiation, saltwater immersion and terrestrial abrasion while reducing any adverse effects of the attachment of the logger to the bird is needed. Here, a method for attaching global location-sensing (GLS) data-loggers to Short-tailed Shearwaters (Ardenna tenuirostris) on a modified aluminium band is described. GLS loggers were attached for 12 months from the 2007–08 austral summer and 74% of geolocated birds returned the following season compared with a slightly higher rate of 82.5% for birds with no loggers attached. Body mass between birds with and without loggers was not significantly different in the short or long term. No adverse injuries to the birds were observed. We believe the application of this method with its high rate of return can be applied to all species of shearwater and will not only assist researchers in future tracking studies but help minimise any adverse effects the logger has on the birds’ behaviour.

Additional keywords: Ardenna, banding, geolocation, investigator disturbance, logger attachment, Procellariiformes, seabirds, Short-tailed Shearwaters, tracking.


We thank Aldonga Engineering, Barry Baker (Agreement on the Conservation of Albatross and Petrel Advisory Committee), David Drynan (ABBBS) and Geoff Dandie (Australian and New Zealand Council for the Care of Animals in Research and Teaching) for their technical advice. We also thank Scott Shaffer, Richard Phillips, Peter Hodum and Bruce Robertson for their contributions and discussion regarding this research. Warren Paul provided statistical assistance with power analysis. We are indebted to Dennis Black, Felix De Natris, Sophie Kennedy, Victoria McCartney, Danni Smith, Terry Karis, Laura Savige and Michael North for their assistance with fieldwork. We thank and acknowledge Laura Savige for providing photos of the bands and shearwater legs in the field. This manuscript was also improved by thoughtful comments by Robert Trevethan and three anonymous reviewers. ANZ Trustees Foundation – Holsworth Wildlife Research Foundation kindly provided financial assistance. This research was conducted under La Trobe University animal ethics permit (number AEC05–15-W) and Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water permit (number FA 08145) (both to C. E. Meathrel).


Adams, J. , Scott, D. , McKechnie, S. , Blackwell, G. , Shaffer, S. A. , and Moller, H. (2009). Effects of geolocation archival tags on reproduction and adult body mass of sooty shearwaters (Puffinus griseus). New Zealand Journal of Zoology 36, 355–366.

Afanasyev, V. (2004). A miniature daylight level and activity data recorder for tracking animals over long periods. Memoirs National Institute of Polar Research 58, 227–233.

Bradley, J. S. , Wooller, R. D. , Skira, I. J. , and Serventy, D. L. (1989). Age-dependent survival of breeding short-tailed shearwaters Puffinus tenuirostris. Journal of Animal Ecology 58, 175–188.
CrossRef |

Bradley, J. S. , Wooller, R. D. , and Skira, I. J. (2000). Intermittent breeding in the short-tailed shearwater Puffinus tenuirostris. Journal of Animal Ecology 69, 639–650.
CrossRef |

Burger, A. E. , and Shaffer, S. A. (2008). Application of tracking and data logging technology in research and conservation of seabirds. Auk 125, 253–264.
CrossRef |

Carey, M. J. (2009). The effects of investigator disturbance in procellariiform seabirds: a review. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 36, 367–377.

Catry, T. , Ramos, J. A. , Le Corre, M. , and Phillips, R. A. (2009). Movements, at-sea distribution and behaviour: the wedge-tailed shearwater in the western Indian Ocean. Marine Ecology Progress Series 391, 231–242.
CrossRef |

Croxall, J. P. , Silk, J. R. D. , Phillips, R. A. , Afanasyev, V. , and Briggs, D. R. (2005). Global circumnavigations: tracking year-round ranges of nonbreeding albatrosses. Science 307, 249–250.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

González-Solís, J. , Croxall, J. P. , Oro, D. , and Ruiz, X. (2007). Trans-equatorial migration and mixing the wintering areas of a pelagic seabird. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 5, 297–301.
CrossRef |

Guilford, T. , Meade, J. , Willis, J. , Phillips, R. A. , Boyle, D. , Roberts, S. , Collett, M. , Freeman, R. , and Perrins, C. M. (2009). Migration and stopover in a small pelagic seabird, the Manx shearwater Puffinus puffinus: insights from machine learning. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B. Biological Sciences 276, 1215–1223.
CrossRef | CAS |

Igual, J. M. , Forero, M. G. , Tavecchia, G. , González-Solís, J. , Martínez-Abraín, A. , Hobson, K. A. , Ruiz, X. , and Oro, D. (2005). Short-term effects of data-loggers on Cory’s shearwater (Calonectris diomedea). Marine Biology 146, 619–624.
CrossRef |

Lowe K. W. (1989) ‘The Australian Bird Bander’s Manual.’ (Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service (Australian Bird and Bat Banding Schemes): Canberra, ACT.)

Meathrel, C. E. , and Carey, M. J. (2007). How important are intrinsic factors to natal recruitment in Short-tailed Shearwaters Puffinus tenuirostris? Journal für Ornithologie 148(Suppl. 2), 385–393.
CrossRef |

Navarro, J. , González-Solís, J. , Viscor, G. , and Chastel, O. (2008). Ecophysiological response to an experimental increase of wing loading in a pelagic seabird. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 358, 14–19.
CrossRef |

Phalan, B. , Phillips, R. A. , Silk, J. R. D. , Afanasyev, V. , Fukuda, A. , Fox, J. , Catry, P. , Higuchi, H. , and Croxall, J. P. (2007). Foraging behaviour of four albatross species by night and day. Marine Ecology Progress Series 340, 271–286.
CrossRef |

Phillips, R. A. , Xavier, J. C. , and Croxall, J. P. (2003). Effects of satellite transmitters on albatrosses and petrels. Auk 120, 1082–1090.
CrossRef |

Phillips, R. A. , Silk, J. R. D. , Croxall, J. P. , and Afanasyev, V. (2006). Year-round distribution of white-chinned petrels from South Georgia: relationships with oceanography and fisheries. Biological Conservation 129, 336–347.
CrossRef |

Phillips, R. A. , Catry, P. , Silk, J. R. D. , Bearhop, S. , McGill, R. , Afanasyev, V. , and Strange, I. J. (2007). Movements, winter distribution and activity patterns of Falkland and brown skuas: insights from loggers and isotopes. Marine Ecology Progress Series 345, 281–291.
CrossRef |

Rayner, M. J. , Hauber, M. E. , Clout, M. N. , Seldon, D. S. , Van Dijken, S. , Bury, S. , and Phillips, R. A. (2008). Foraging ecology of the Cook’s petrel Pterodroma cookii during the austral breeding season: a comparison of its two populations. Marine Ecology Progress Series 370, 271–284.
CrossRef |

Serventy, D. L. , and Curry, P. J. (1984). Observations on colony size, breeding success, recruitment and inter-colony dispersal in a Tasmanian colony of Short-tailed Shearwaters Puffinus tenuirostris over a 30-year period. Emu 84, 71–79.

Shaffer, S. A. , Tremblay, Y. , Weimerskirch, H. , Scott, D. , Thompson, D. R. , Sagar, P. M. , Moller, H. , Taylor, G. A. , Foley, D. G. , Block, B. A. , and Costa, D. P. (2006). Migratory shearwaters integrate oceanic resources across the Pacific Ocean in an endless summer. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 103, 12799–12802.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Shaffer, S. A. , Weimerskirch, H. , Scott, D. , Pinaud, D. , Thompson, D. R. , Sagar, P. M. , Moller, H. , Taylor, G. A. , Foley, D. G. , Block, B. A. , and Costa, D. P. (2009). Spatio-temporal habitat use by breeding sooty shearwaters Puffinus griseus. Marine Ecology Progress Series 391, 209–220.
CrossRef |

Skira, I. (1991). The Short-tailed Shearwater: a review of its biology. Corella 15, 45–52.

Söhle, I. S. (2003). Effects of satellite telemetry on Sooty Shearwater, Puffinus griseus, adults and chicks. Emu 103, 373–379.
CrossRef |

Söhle, I. S. , Moller, H. , Fletcher, D. , and Robertson, C. J. R. (2000). Telemetry reduces colony attendance by sooty shearwaters (Puffinus griseus). New Zealand Journal of Zoology 27, 357–365.

Takahashi, A. , Ochi, D. , Watanuki, Y. , Deguchi, T. , Oka, N. , Afanasyev, V. , Fox, J. W. , and Trathan, P. N. (2008). Post-breeding movement and activities of two Streaked Shearwaters in the north-western Pacific. Ornithological Science 7, 29–35.
CrossRef |

Warham J. (Ed.) (1990) ‘The Petrels: Their Ecology and Breeding Systems.’ (Academic Press: London.)

Wilson, R. P. , Grant, W. S. , and Duffy, D. C. (1986). Recording devices on free-ranging marine animals: does measurement affect foraging performance? Ecology 67, 1091–1093.
CrossRef |

Wood, K. W. (1993). Feeding behaviour, offal preferences and tarsus shape of Puffinus shearwaters off central New South Wales. Notornis 40, 123–127.

Yamamoto, T. , Takahashi, A. , Yoda, K. , Katsumata, N. , Watanabe, S. , Sato, K. , and Trathan, P. N. (2008). The lunar cycle affects at-sea behaviour in a pelagic seabird, the streaked shearwater, Calonectris leucomelas. Animal Behaviour 76, 1647–1652.
CrossRef |

Export Citation Cited By (8)