Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Carnegie Museum Of Natural History Receives $1.35 Million Grant To Improve Tracking Migrating Wildlife

On April 27, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awarded a $1.35 million grant to enable Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Powdermill Avian Research Center, in collaboration with several state wildlife agencies and wildlife-centered nonprofit organizations, to dramatically expand a new migration tracking system across the northeastern United States.
The grant, with $600,000 designated for PARC project costs, provides critical backing for expanding and refining the use of highly miniaturized transmitters-- some weighing just 1/200th of an ounce--  and an array of strategically-placed receiver towers to track the movements of birds, bats, and even creatures as small as dragonflies and monarch butterflies from distances as great as nine miles.
The grant will allow the partners to establish 50 automated telemetry receiver stations in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Maine. 
All new receiver towers will be part of the rapidly expanding Motus Wildlife Tracking System, established in 2013 by Bird Studies Canada, which already includes nearly 900 such stations around the world. 
In addition to state wildlife agencies for Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maine, partners for the project include the Willistown Conservation Trust in Chester County; the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art in Dauphin County; Project Owlnet, a nationwide cooperative research initiative, and New Hampshire Audubon, Massachusetts Audubon and Maine Audubon.
Besides significantly increasing the telemetry infrastructure across the Northeast, this new USFWS grant specifically targets several species of greatest conservation need in New England.
Research collaborators will use nanotag transmitters to study the migration routes, timing, and behavior of American Kestrels, the region’s smallest falcon and a bird that has experienced drastic and largely unexplained declines across New England. 
Other scientists will use the smallest nanotags to track the movements of monarch butterflies from the region, a species whose dramatic population declines have prompted their consideration for federal listing as endangered, but also a species whose migration has been under-studied.
This is the second major USFWS grant for Motus expansion in the Northeast region. In 2018, the agency awarded the collaboration about $500,000 to build 46 receiver stations in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York. 
The collaboration had already constructed a 20-receiver array across Pennsylvania in 2017 using private, foundation, and state grant funds.
Additional information about Motus technology, including images of receiving towers and tiny transmitters can be found at the Powdermill Avian Research Center webpage.
[Posted: April 28, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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