Effects of Implanted Transmitters with Percutaneous Antennae on Breeding and Foraging Behavior of Captive Sea Ducks Used as Surrogates for Wild Sea ducks

Project Number: 90
Year Funded: 2008
Lead Institution(s): USGS-Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Project Lead: Matthew Perry
Collaborator(s): Glenn Olsen (USGS), Alicia Wells-Berlin (USGS)
Location: Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Focal Species:
Project Description: In this study we focused on the need to better understand the effect on courtship and egg laying during the spring and the effect of the transmitter and antennae during winter foraging activities, when energetics may be more critical to survival. The data collected in this study will assist in future telemetry studies using implanted transmitters (satellite and conventional VHF) equipped with percutaneous antennae with seaducks and will assist with the management of these populations in the breeding, molting, and wintering areas. This study will ultimately document the effects of implantable transmitters on the behavioral ecology of diving ducks and seaducks. This information is needed to obtain the knowledge of the effect that these transmitters have on the future success and survival of the instrumented ducks while transmitting, but also after the transmitters have stopped transmitting. Telemetry has provided very valuable information for the management of seaduck populations, but more is needed to be known about the potential adverse effects on ducks. The goal of this study is to obtain data under controlled conditions that we hope show no adverse effect of the implantable transmitters so that future researchers do not have to assume this fact. This information is a major priority for the Sea Duck Joint Venture, which is the major donor of funds.

Waterfowl biologists conducting research with seaducks in North America have used two main types of implantable platform tracking terminal (PTT) transmitters with their studies dealing with the movements of seaducks. The transmitters commonly used by researchers are 26 gram PTT-100 (Type A) or 39 gram PTT-100 (Type B) with a percutaneous antenna when it is in the duck Figure 1). Typically the 26 gram package is used for smaller seaducks like longtailed ducks and harlequin ducks, whereas the larger 39 gram package is used with larger ducks such as scoters and eiders. For this study Type A and B transmitter design were used.
Project Reports: https://seaduckjv.org/pdf/studies/pr90.pdf