Tracking Migration

Capturing bird population trends

Allison Byrd, a research assistant at ERI, climbs a tower to check on a Motus Wildlife Tracking System on a tower at the T.C. Steele State Historic Site. Photo by James Brosher, Indiana University

Migratory animals provide essential ecological services such as pollination, seed dispersal, recreation, and insect control and also harbor the potential to transmit disease to humans and other wildlife. A team led by IU Distinguished Professor Ellen Ketterson is focused on developing techniques to track the movement of these creatures in a time of environmental change.

Using multiple technologies and techniques, including archival GPS tags, nanotags, MOTUS towers, and stable isotopes, the team aims to track wildlife more effectively and economically to capture bird population trends.

Related efforts include the enhancement of facilities at Kent Farm Research Station and monitoring the whooping crane population at Goose Pond in Linton, Ind. in collaboration with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The latter project is addressing the questions of how whooping cranes endure Indiana winters energetically, what can be done to improve their survival and presence in the area, and how they might enhance eco-tourism in the state.

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