Wing tags severely impair movement in African Cape Vultures

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Animal Biotelemetry. BioMed Central. 2021, 9(1), 11. eISSN 2050-3385. Available under: doi: 10.1186/s40317-021-00234-2
Zusammenfassung

Background
The use of tracking technologies is key for the study of animal movement and pivotal to ecological and conservation research. However, the potential effects of devices attached to animals are sometimes neglected. The impact of tagging not only rises welfare concerns, but can also bias the data collected, causing misinterpretation of the observed behaviour which invalidates the comparability of information across individuals and populations. Patagial (wing) tags have been extensively used as a marking method for visual resightings in endangered vulture species, but their effect on the aerodynamics of the birds and their flight behaviour is yet to be investigated. Using GPS backpack mounted devices, we compared the flight performance of 27 captive and wild Cape Vultures (Gyps coprotheres), marked with either patagial tags or coloured leg bands.

Results
Individuals equipped with patagial tags were less likely to fly, travelled shorter distances and flew slower compared to individuals equipped with leg bands. These effects were also observed in one individual that recovered its flight performance after replacing its patagial tag by a leg band.

Conclusions
Although we did not measure the effects of patagial tags on body condition or survival, our study strongly suggests that they have severe adverse effects on vultures’ flight behaviour and emphasises the importance of investigating the effects that tagging methods can have on the behaviour and conservation of the study species, as well as on the quality of the scientific results.

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ISO 690CURK, Teja, Martina SCACCO, Kamran SAFI, Martin WIKELSKI, Wolfgang FIEDLER, Ryno KEMP, Kerri WOLTER, 2021. Wing tags severely impair movement in African Cape Vultures. In: Animal Biotelemetry. BioMed Central. 2021, 9(1), 11. eISSN 2050-3385. Available under: doi: 10.1186/s40317-021-00234-2
BibTex
@article{Curk2021-12sever-54076,
  year={2021},
  doi={10.1186/s40317-021-00234-2},
  title={Wing tags severely impair movement in African Cape Vultures},
  number={1},
  volume={9},
  journal={Animal Biotelemetry},
  author={Curk, Teja and Scacco, Martina and Safi, Kamran and Wikelski, Martin and Fiedler, Wolfgang and Kemp, Ryno and Wolter, Kerri},
  note={Article Number: 11}
}
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