Smart technology aids research into a nationally important seabird colony - Bangor University

an island covered in seabirds in a pink sea in the setting sun
Image taken by time lapse camera, showing shags and cormorants roosting at sunset off the North Wales coast (Bangor University)

UK scientists are rolling out an array of technology to understand if a charismatic seabird species will thrive or suffer under future climate change and extreme weather events.

The research, led by scientists from Bangor University, focuses on a national important colony of European shag (Gulosus aristotelis) on Puffin Island, near Anglesey. Numbers of European shags have been declining in recent years, putting them onto the red list of birds under the highest threat of extinction in the UK.

GPS trackers, accelerometers, miniature bird-borne cameras and time-lapse photography are some of the technologies being used by the team, which includes researchers from Lancaster University and the Universities of Liverpool and Cumbria.

The footage from the miniaturised cameras captures the birds diving for fish, providing data to help researchers understand how weather conditions may affect the foraging behaviour and success of a diving seabird species. The research is the first time this technology has been used on seabirds on Puffin Island.

The accelerometers – a kind of speedometer – record how fast the bird is moving and how it twists and turns in the sea in pursuit of prey.

PhD student Claire Carrington, from Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences is presenting the research today [August 23] at the International Seabird Group Conference in Cork.

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Posted On: 23/08/2022

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