Thursday, July 02, 2009

More high tech comes to birding

From the BBC - we have GPS dataloggers being used on Puffins on the Farne Islands to monitor their movements following recent declines (see:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8126331.stm) and then, more technical, we have neurologgers being used on homing pigeons (see:http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/155548.php). The pigeon article is interesting - fit a pigeon with an EEG (brainwave) logger, together with a GPS system and then compare brain pattern with location. By releasing the pigeon to 'home' and knowing where it is (by GPS) the brain wave pattern can be interpreted to determine what stimuli the pigeon is responding too in flight.

"Interestingly, the brain recordings revealed that the pigeons took unusual interest in a couple of locations that did not seem to be relevant to finding their way home. Upon further investigation, the researchers discovered a farm and cattle paddock in one of those spots, and in the second case, a nearby barn. The "riddle" was solved by visiting those places, Vyssotski said. Both harbored colonies of feral pigeons, lending them special significance for the birds".

By using the same technique on other species we may be to identify what areas are important to them, why, and then find ways of conserving them.

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