Telemetry has advanced understanding of wildlife biology in lockstep with advances in technology. Recent development of automated radio tracking systems can provide precise information on habitat use at small-scale and large-scale movements across continents by continually monitoring for tag frequencies.
Little is known about the movements, habitat use, and causes of mortality of common loons during their first few years. To address this knowledge gap, scientists with the USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and partners captured and radiomarked juvenile common loons on lakes scattered across Minnesota and Wisconsin during the summers of 2014 and 2015. Satellite transmitter and geolocator tag technologies were used to describe the movements and wintering ground use of juvenile loons in Minnesota and Wisconsin during their first two years of life.
Most North American ospreys breed in northern latitudes and migrate long distances to and from tropical wintering grounds. Although the fall migration patterns of these ospreys have been well studied, very little has been published about spring migration. USGS and other researchers used satellite telemetry to determine the timing and duration of osprey spring migratory routes from 1997 to 2013. The researchers also compared spring and fall migrations among male and female ospreys from three breeding populations (east coast, midwestern, and western).
Risk of golden eagle collisions with wind turbines is influenced by the altitude at which the birds fly. Topographic features drive eagle flight because lift is dependent on the slope, aspect, and cover type over which they fly. The USGS is leading an evaluation of the relationship between topography and eagle flight altitude to infer risk to eagles from turbine development in the Mojave Desert, California.
Condor populations recovering in California face numerous threats, including the development of wind-energy facilities within their range. To understand how condor flight behavior may expose them to risk from wind energy, USGS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Bureau of Land Management researchers are initiating a new study to track condor flight using high-frequency Global Positioning System-Global System for Mobile Communication (GPS-GSM) telemetry systems.
North American ospreys typically migrate long distances to their wintering grounds in the tropics, yet very little is known about the wintering ecology of these birds. USGS and other researchers used satellite telemetry from 1997–2013 to determine the time ospreys spent on wintering grounds. Scientists also examined wintering area characteristics and space use of ospreys from the East Coast, Midwest, and Pacific Northwest.
The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) is being developed for deserts in southern California to protect species like the golden eagle while simultaneously allowing for growing renewable energy development. To understand how golden eagles may be impacted by renewable energy projects, researchers used global positioning system-global system for mobile communications (GPS-GSM) telemetry to measure year-round golden eagle movements.