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Survival probability in a small shorebird decreases with the time an individual carries a tracking device

Citation

Pakanen, Veli-Matti et al. (2020), Survival probability in a small shorebird decreases with the time an individual carries a tracking device, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.6m905qfxp

Abstract

Effects of tracking devices on survival are generally considered to be small. However, most studies to date have been conducted over a time-period of only one year, neglecting the possible accumulation of negative effects and consequently stronger negative impacts on survival when the individuals have carried the tracking devices for longer periods. We studied the effects of geolocators in a closely monitored and colour-ringed southern dunlin (Calidris alpina schinzii) population breeding in Finland. Our capture-recapture data spans 2002-2018 and includes individual histories of 338 colour-ringed breeding adult dunlins (the term ‘recapture’ includes resightings of colour-ringed and individually recognizable birds). These data include 53 adults that were fitted with leg-flag mounted geolocators in 2013-2014. We followed their fates together with other colour-ringed birds not equipped with geolocators until 2018. Geolocators were removed within 1-2 years of attachment or were not removed at all, which allowed us to examine whether carrying a geolocator reduces survival and whether the reduction in survival becomes stronger when geolocators are carried for more than one year. We fit multi-state open population capture-recapture models to the encounter history data. When assessing geolocator effects, we accounted for recapture probabilities, time since marking, and sex and year effects on survival. We found that carrying a geolocator reduced survival, which contrasts with many studies that examined return rates after one year. Importantly, survival declined with the time the individual had carried a geolocator, suggesting that the negative effects accumulate over time. Hence, the longer monitoring of birds carrying a geolocator may explain the difference from previous studies. Despite their larger mass, females tended to be more strongly affected by geolocators than males. Our results warrant caution in conducting tracking studies and suggest that short-term studies examining return rates may not reveal all possible effects of tracking devices on survival.

Methods

The data were collected with standard field methods from a breeding population of the southern dunlin. See Pakanen et al. (2011, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2020) for further details.

Funding

Academy of Finland, Award: 278759

Academy of Finland, Award: 128384

Koneensäätiö

the Kone foundation

the Kone foundation

Finnish Cultural Foundation

the Emil Aaltonen Foundation

the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the Univ. of Oulu

the Univ. of Oulu Scholarship Foundation

the Kone foundation

Finnish Cultural Foundation

the Emil Aaltonen Foundation

the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the Univ. of Oulu

the Univ. of Oulu Scholarship Foundation