News from Scientists at the USGS Patuxent wildlife Research Center
Thursday, September 21, 2000
Migration of Sandhill Cranes
In Autumn 1999, twelve sandhill cranes were transported south from west-central Utah to the Gila River, Arizona, and flown at 26 km intervals along the way. At Gila Bend they were released one-by-one into a wild flock. Then in early November, three were recaptured and transported north to see if they would go south immediately. After a month delay, they did go south, to the exact latitude of the Gila River release site albeit 100 km east. Come spring, all of our cranes went north, but they went part way with the wild flock. They seemed to realize they were on the wrong route, wandered a few weeks, then in April 9 came back to the wintering grounds and settled in. After three weeks, I captured seven and took them to Fish Springs NWR, the northern terminus of our stage-by-stage migration. Three were left on the Gila River to see what they would do in 120 degree heat. Then six of the seven at the northern terminus left Fish Springs and flew to Utah Lake (80 km east) around 1 June. The three near Gila Bend then disappeared, BUT when I did a pre-migration check at Utah Lake in late August, I found five of the seven cranes trucked north in April and two of the birds that I had left at Gila Bend. Yes, these two flew on their own and found their flockmates at Utah Lake, nearly 800 km away. So what does it all mean? We now know that stage-by-stage birds want to migrate, can make long treks, and seem to be able to find the general area of our chosen termini. They are able to find the exact latitude of the termini. Perhaps a stage-by-stage technique can be perfected.
Contact: Dr. David H. Ellis at email@example.com .
Mercury Levels Examined in Tree Swallows at Acadia National Park
The USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center's Northeast Research Group at Orono, Maine in partnership with the National Park Service has determined Mercury Levels in Tree Swallows at Acadia National Park. High concentrations of mercury in fish at Acadia National Park prompted interest in determining if locally breeding passerine species also were exposed to mercury through their aquatic insect foods. Beginning in 1997 nest boxes at Seal Cove Pond, Hodgdon Pond (Aunt Betty Pond added in 1998) at Acadia National Park, and at Orono, Maine (reference site) were monitored through 2000 for nesting tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor). From each nest the 3rd egg laid was collected. Food boli were collected from nestlings for most nests and 1 egg and 1 nestling (> 14 days old)/ were collected from each nest box. Samples (food boli, eggs, carcasses, feathers) were prepared by microwave acid digestion for analysis of total mercury by a Merlin Cold Vapor Atomic Fluorescence Spectrometer. Measurable amounts of total mercury (ng/g, wet weight) were detected in all samples. For any year or pond, average amounts of mercury equaled; in food boli 72-291, in eggs 227-531, in carcasses 30-73, and in feathers 1,080-4,493. Among years and ponds the factors of increase of mercury were: from food boli to eggs, 1.2 - 6.1, from food to carcass, 0.23 - 0.56, and from food to feathers, 8.5 - 27.7. Mercury in food boli, carcasses and feathers was different among some ponds for some years, but over all, mercury in tree swallow samples from Aunt Betty Pond ranked the highest, followed by Hodgdon Pond, Orono site, and Seal Cove Pond. The source (s) of this mercury is thought to be from atmospheric depositions, because no local point sources of mercury are known for these sites. This study was conducted in collaboration with Dr. Terry A. Haines, Orono Field Station, Leetown Science Center, Orono, ME.
Contact: Jerry R. Longcore, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center-Orono, Jerry_Longcore@usgs.govBird Banding Lab Chief Meets with Fisheries Tagging Committee
Bird Banding Laboratory Chief John Tautin met with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Interstate Tagging Committee on September 11, 2000 at Baltimore, Maryland. The Commission is developing a plan for the national coordination and registration of fish tagging programs. Their goal is to make data collected from single purpose, limited application, tagging programs more useful for broader management purposes. The Commission hopes to establish standard protocols for the design and conduct of fish tagging programs, and common procedures for data management. Fish tagging and bird banding programs have much in common, ranging from broad issues such as the role of avocational taggers, to esoteric, but necessary procedures for processing replaced tags. Emphasizing what has worked well and what has not, Tautin described the North American bird banding program and its legal and philosophical underpinnings, and he discussed current issues, initiatives, and technical developments associated with re-engineering BBL operations. The lessons to be learned from the bird banding experience were well received by the Interstate Tagging Committee. Further communications and cooperation with the Committee and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission are likely.
Contact: John Tautin, Chief Bird Banding Laboratory firstname.lastname@example.org
Albers and Kendall attend the Wildlife Society Annual Meeting in Nashville
Dr Peter Albers and Dr William Kendall attended the Wildlife Society annual meeting in Nashville, TN from 12-16 September 2000. Dr Albers presented a poster while Dr Kendall presented a paper and served as the officer of a workgroup.
The EURING 2000 Conference will be held from 1-7 October 2000 at Point Reyes, California. Several Patuxent Scientists will attend and present papers. Dr William A. Link will be presenting a paper entitled "Model-based estimation of individual fitness" and will also be coauthoring a plenary address, "Occam's Revenge: levels of analysis in evolutionary ecology - where to next?" with E.G. Cooch and E. Cam. Dr Link will also be chairing a session on Random Effects Models. Evan G. Cooch will present the paper, "Random Effects Capture-Recapture Models and Bayesian Shrinkage" authored by Cooch, W.A. Link and J. Andrew Royle. Drs James Nichols and William Kendall will also attend EURING 2000 and present papers.
Patuxent Scientists to Attend Black Duck Symposium on October 4, 2000
The Wildlife Trust of North America will sponsor a symposium on Black Ducks and Chesapeake Bay Habitats on 4 October 2000 at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills, Maryland. Several Patuxent scientists will be attending and presenting papers. G. Michael Haramis will present the paper, "Nest Site Selection and Breeding Productivity of Smith Island Black Ducks". Jerry Longcore will present the paper, "American Black Duck Summer Range Versus Winter Range: A Dichotomy of Riches". Dennis Jorde will present a paper, "Mid-winter Survey of Black Ducks, Locally, and Regionally". Former Patuxent research scientist Vernon D. Stotts will present a Historic Movie of Chesapeake Bay Black Ducks. Dr Matthew C. Perry played a major role in organizing and presenting the symposium.
Patuxent Scientists to Attend2nd North American Duck Conference in Saskatoon
Several Patuxent scientists will be attending the 2nd North American Duck Conference in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada from 11-15 October 2000. Ken Reinecke will present the paper, "Variation of Winter Body Mass of Mallards in the Mississippi Delta", jointly authored by Reinecke; Mark Petrie, DU IWWR; Dean Demarest, USGS Patuxent; Tom Moorman, DU SRO. Dean Demarest will present the paper, "Age-assorative Paring in Wood Ducks and Mallards", jointly authored by Demarest, Mark Vrtiska, Nebraska Game and Parks; Reinecke; Barbara Lercel, DU New York; Richard Kaminski, Mississippi State University. Dan McAuley will present the paper, "Dynamics of Wetland Use by Breeding American Black Ducks and Mallards" authored by Daniel G. McAuley, Jerry R. Longcore, and David A. Clugston of the USGS-Patuxent Wildlife Research Center- Orono, Maine. Drs Matthew Perry and James Nichols will also attend and present papers.
USGS Patuxent & USDA Wetlands Institute to Host Northeast Partners in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Meeting
The 3rd meeting
of Northeast Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (NEPARC), a
regional group of the national nonprofit organization Partners in
Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC), will be held at the USGS
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center on October 13-15, 2000 in the
Gabrielson Conference room, with a Saturday evening banquet held at the
National Wildlife Visitor Center. The meeting is sponsored by
USGS-Patuxent, the Wetlands Institute of the USDA, and the Maryland
Department of Natural Resources. Meeting organizers include Robin Jung,
Linda Weir, Laura Mazanti, and Scott Smith. The 3rd NEPARC meeting will
be dedicated to Dr. Laura Mazanti and her commitment to conservation
efforts. Attendees are expected to include members of Federal, state,
academic, and nonprofit organizations. Registration is required. More
information on the meeting, including agenda and registration
information, is available on the NEPARC website (also hosted by
Patuxent, thanks to Gideon Lachman) or by contacting:
NEPARC website: www.mp1-pwrc.usgs.gov/~neparc/
PARC website: www.parcplace.org/
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