Home Technology New expertise used to observe European shag inhabitants

New expertise used to observe European shag inhabitants

New technology used to monitor European shag population

RESEARCHERS are utilizing expertise from cameras to GPS tracker to see if a seabird species will thrive or endure underneath future local weather change and excessive climate occasions.

The analysis, led by scientists from Bangor College, focuses on a nationwide essential colony of European shag (Gulosus aristotelis), a species of cormorant, on what is named Puffin Island, close to Ynys Mon.

Numbers of European shags have been declining in recent times, placing them onto the crimson listing of birds underneath the very best risk of extinction within the UK.

GPS trackers, accelerometers, miniature bird-borne cameras and time-lapse pictures are a number of the applied sciences being utilized by the staff, which incorporates researchers from Lancaster College and the Universities of Liverpool and Cumbria.

The footage from the miniaturised cameras captures the birds diving for fish, offering information to assist researchers perceive how climate circumstances might have an effect on the foraging behaviour and success of a diving seabird species. The analysis is the primary time this expertise has been used on seabirds on Puffin Island.

The accelerometers – a sort of speedometer – report how briskly the chicken is transferring and the way it twists and turns within the sea in pursuit of prey.

PhD pupil Claire Carrington, from Bangor College’s College of Ocean Sciences is presenting the analysis at present on the Worldwide Seabird Group Convention in Cork.

She stated: “We piloted the applied sciences on European shags on Puffin Island this yr they usually labored rather well, so we’re aiming to suit them to extra birds subsequent yr. We’ve chosen to work with the European shags, as they’re significantly weak to the impacts of utmost climate and stay in coastal areas year-round. The information we’re gathering will give us insights for each shags and comparable diving birds such because the Nice cormorant.”

Time-lapse cameras which take images each half-hour are additionally put in all yr spherical at key roosting websites across the north Wales coast, the place the shags and cormorants dry their feathers off after fishing.

Neither chicken has completely waterproof plumage. This helps them to dive, by decreasing their buoyancy, however signifies that they should dry their wings after diving.

The researchers are collaborating with pc scientists from Bangor College to develop bespoke software program to automate the counting of seabirds, in hundreds of photos.

Lead researcher from Bangor College, Dr James Waggitt stated: “Cormorants and shags are very recognisable, and many individuals can have seen them across the coast, drying their wings out on the rocks. However though they’re a standard sight, their populations are nonetheless in danger within the UK, which is why it’s so essential to raised perceive the threats they face and the way they’re responding.”


Throughout the breeding season, different time-lapse cameras, taking footage each ten minutes, have additionally been put in at nests on Puffin Island to see how frequently the birds are returning to feed their chicks.

The staff plan to collect extra information utilizing these applied sciences over the subsequent two years. The outcomes will then be mixed with archive information on each the Nice cormorant and European shag populations going again to 1985, and in contrast with modelled climate circumstances to grasp the potential future impacts of a altering local weather on coastal seabird populations.

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