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Revealed: the secret life of godwits


To find out more about birds such as the black-tailed godwit, UG ecologists have been conducting long-term population studies using standardised information on reproductive behaviour—such as dates of egg laying or hatching and levels of chick survival. New information gathered using geolocators on godwits in the Netherlands shows that traditional observation methods can lead to inaccurate data. The study was published in the April-issue of the Journal of Avian Biology.

PhD student Mo Verhoeven from the University of Groningen, member of the research group lead by Professor Theunis Piersma, used geolocators attached to the legs of black-tailed godwits to follow their migration pattern. ‘These consist of a tiny chip that records light intensity every five minutes, together with the exact date and time,’ explains Verhoeven. This combination allows him to determine longitude and latitude from the times of sunrise and sunset. Geolocators can collect data for up to 26 months and the information is read after removal of the chip. MORE

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