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Isotopes and Telemetry Reveal Golden Eagle Migratory Patterns

Cara J

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New research on hydrogen isotopes on golden eagles shows that at least some birds of a feather may fly together. While researchers have long known more or less where eastern golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) come from and where they end up during their migrations, they haven’t known about many of the specifics including whether some subpopulations always group together, and how much connectivity there is between the birds. “Establishing these patterns of connectivity is really important to conservation,” said Todd Katzner, a research wildlife biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center and a coauthor of a new study published this week in The Condor: Ornithological Applications. To get a better idea of population dynamics, the research team took hydrogen isotopes from feathers they gathered in winter and summer areas. The water that eagles ingest in different areas contains consistent isotope patterns that can indicate where the birds spent their time. The researchers combined this with telemetry for control, though the gathering of feathers is much cheaper and gives a broader picture of the population makeup. Based on the data, researchers determined that eagles that spend their winters in Pennsylvania generally spend summers in the mid-latitudes [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/isotopes-and-telemetry-reveal-golden-eagle-migratory-patterns/

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