Effects of fitting dummy satellite transmitters to Greenland White-fronted Geese Anser albifrons flavirostris
Before attaching satellite transmitters to Greenland White-fronted Geese to study spring migration and spring staging areas in Greenland and Iceland, dummies including a radio transmitter were attached to the geese to study the effects on eg behaviour and condition, and to find an effective harness material. Twelve free-flying Whitefronts were tracked and studied in a three month period on the wintering grounds at Wexford Slobs in Ireland. The dummy-fitted geese preened significantly more than controls two to three days after the attachment, but one week after handling the behaviour seemed to have normalised. There were indications that dummy-fitted geese increased their abdominal profile index less than controls during a one month period. Other behaviour such as site fidelity, flying to roost and family group cohesion all appeared normal. The knicker elastic harness proved more effective than the neoprene harness. It is recommended that satellite transmitters are attached to the geese at least two weeks prior to spring migration, that transmitters are as light as possible, that transmitters are fixed to the harness to prevent sideways slippage and that a less robust harness design be developed to ensure packages fall off within the course of a year.
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