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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

MOTUS wildlife tracking system a revolution in tracking songbirds!


Existing Motus sites

Semi-palmated Sandpiper

Blackpoll Warbler

Wood Thrush

Have you heard about Motus Wildlife Tracking System? If you haven’t you will soon. It is an international collaborative research network that uses a coordinated automated radio telemetry array that can now track the movement and behavior of small birds and animals like songbirds (such as Wood Thrushes, Blackpoll Warblers, Semi-palmated Sandpipers), butterflies, dragonflies, bats and more who are fitted with very small, light radio-transmitter tags (previously transmitters have been too big to be used on these small animals). The animals are tracked with a growing system of transceivers scattered throughout the landscape. It is very cool that The Harris Center for Conservation Education here in SW NH will be one of the first inland tracking stations in this area, most are coastal. Each tag on an animal sends out a unique signal that tells where animals go, how fast between points (migration ecology) how long they stay in an area (stop-over ecology) and more. The purpose of Motus is to facilitate landscape-scale research and education on the ecology of migratory animals. It is a program of Birds Canada in partnership with collaborating research organizations.
To learn lots more go to
From the Motus website “As students of migration ecology, we’re ultimately after the ability to know everything about all individuals at all times. Unfortunately, the technology required to do this for most flying migratory animals, particularly the smallest bodied ones, does not exist. Therefore, biologists have to use a combination of complementary tools such as tracking-based geolocators, GPS and GSM, GPS and Geolocation data loggers, as well as isoptopic, genetic, and good old bird banding/ringing to discover the complete life histories of migratory animals. While often viewed as having competing value, these tools are undeniably complementary, and researchers need to employ the best tool for the job given the specific questions and study system in mind.
What is most unique about Motus is that it provides an opportunity to track the widest variety of the smallest animals possible, today, at local, regional, or hemispheric scales depending on the location and species in question. And best of all, almost anyone can get involved in one way or another – Motus is the ultimate hands-on community science project.
Another important differentiation between automated radio telemetry and other technologies available is that the temporal precision of the data can be much greater with radio telemetry as tags can repeat their signals as quickly as every 2 seconds. This extremely high temporal precision can allow for exceptionally detailed examinations of an animals behavior, movement patterns, direction and speed of flight.”

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