Automated radiotelemetry in Europe
Radiotelemetry has been used to track animals for decades; however, the field has recently been revolutionized by new technology including automatic receiver systems and miniature tags. The system we are running in Falsterbo since 2009, was the first automated radiotelemetry system in Europe but today a number of research groups around Europe use or will start to use this technique to study movements in birds and bats. It would greatly improve the information we get out of our systems if we could collaborate and develop a larger network across several countries in Europe, and possibly also in Africa, where migrating birds and bats may be located. With a mix of scientists, applied ecologists and staff from bird observatories, we took some important decisions which hopefully will make this project a reality in the years to come.
To get an overview of existing and planned radiotelemetry projects in Europe, all participants made a short presentation of their projects during the first day of the meeting. We continued with a talk by our invited guest Phil Taylor from Motus, Bird Studies Canada and Acadia University, Canada, who told us about their very successful radiotelemetry project, where they today have more than 300 receivers continuously searching for signals from radio tagged birds on the American continent (visit http://www.birdscanada.org/research/motus/ to learn more about the project). The rest of the day was spent on discussing the difficult stuff, all the problems that is associated with working with this type of system in Europe where we do not have permission today to work at the same frequency.
The second day had focus on the potential of a European telemetry network, and the future. Together we set the framework for the work in the near future and created a work group that will concentrate on the European collaboration more actively. We also decided that the European network will be a part of the North American Motus, something that facilitates the work tremendously by letting us focus on developing our systems instead of developing databases and software to deal with the huge amount of data that these systems collect. Overall the meeting was very successful and we all agreed that we have taken the first steps towards a European network. Now the focus will be on expanding our local projects and to build an organization within Europe that can support and advance the field together.
Text: Sissel Sjöberg
Photo: Susanne Åkesson