Emu Emu Society
Journal of BirdLife Australia

Satellite telemetry and seasonal movements of Magpie Geese (Anseranas semipalmata) in tropical northern Australia

Lochran W. Traill A C , Corey J. A. Bradshaw A B and Barry W. Brook A

A The Environment Institute and School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.

B South Australian Research and Development Institute, PO Box 120, Henley Beach, SA 5022, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: lochran.traill@gmail.com

Emu 110(2) 160-164 https://doi.org/10.1071/MU09098
Submitted: 15 October 2009  Accepted: 10 March 2010   Published: 26 May 2010


Knowledge of the patterns of movement of tropical waterfowl should assist in long-term conservation of these birds and their wetlands. Data that indicate or suggest the extent of connectivity between populations help us to make decisions, particularly when those populations are threatened by loss and fragmentation of habitat. To date, there has been little research on tropical waterfowl, with most work on this group of birds done in temperate regions. We tracked the seasonal movements of 10 Magpie Geese (Anseranas semipalmata) in tropical northern Australia, predominantly within Kakadu National Park, using satellite telemetry. Movements were multi-directional and the maximum linear distance travelled by an individual was 114 km from the site of release, over 38 weeks of tracking. Movements did appear to be related to seasonal environmental fluctuations, with some birds moving to favoured breeding and foraging sites, but most monitored birds were resident within the national park. No accurate data were obtained beyond 12 months, with most birds apparently losing their telemeters within 6 months. Just 62% of point-location data were accurate to within 1000 m. Our work provides further ecological data on a species threatened by sea-level rise and important to Aboriginal and recreational hunters.

Additional keywords: Argos system, avian movements, capture, Kakadu, tropical waterbirds.


We thank Parks Australia North and the Traditional Owners of Kakadu National Park for access to the park. J. Curran, K. Dyke, D. Franklin, M. Greenwood, C. Hassell, D. Lindner, T. Nou, P. Ragler, J. Schmidt, J. Smith, E. Watkins, W. White, S. Winderlich and M. Ziembicki assisted with capture and handling of birds. D. Lindner and P. Ragler provided field support. P. Whitehead advised on capture techniques and backpack design. Animal ethics was approved through the University of Adelaide (S-050-2007). The project was listed with the Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme (project number 1456). All research was funded through an Australian Research Council Grant (DP0558350), and Parks Australia North assisted with the purchase of archived data.


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