Research Project - Objectives and Methods

 

1) Determine the wintering distribution of migratory Canada geese in and adjacent to the Santee NWR

2) Measure individual movement patterns and home ranges of migratory Canada geese in and adjacent to Santee NWR

3) Compare habitat use of migratory and resident Canada geese in and adjacent to the Santee NWR

4) Assess the potential impact of land use changes on wintering populations of migratory Canada geese in the Santee Cooper Lakes focus area

5) Assess the potential impact of an expanded resident goose hunting boundary on migratory geese based on 1-3 above. 

Additionally, with satellite telemetry technology, researchers hope to gain information about the migratory pathways and breeding areas of SJBP birds that use the refuge as a wintering ground.

 

Methods

The distribution, movement patterns, and home range sizes of wintering migratory Canada geese will be measured through conventional telemetry techniques and through observations of birds with neck collars.  Resident birds were trapped in late June of 2007 and 2008 and fitted with plastic, numbered neck collars so that they can be identified in the winter if found mingling with flocks of migrant birds.  Migrant birds will be trapped in the winter months of 2008 and 2009 and fitted with a small telemetry transmitter that will sit on their back, much like a backpack.  This transmitter will emit a signal that can be picked up by a researcher using a telemetry receiver.  The movement of these birds will be tracked for the entire time that they winter on the lake.  Radio telemetry equipment is used to find birds that are only a few miles away from the researcher. In order to assess long-distance movements of migrant birds, more sophisticated equipment is needed.  Therefore some birds will be fitted with satellite-telemetry backpack units like those pictured.  These birds are located by a satellite, which then sends movement and location information to researchers via e-mail.  With this information we will be able to determine habitat use of migrant birds on Lake Marion and the refuge, as well as along their migratory pathways between SC and the breeding grounds in Ontario.  This equipment will provide us with valuable information on stop-over sites and habitat resources being used by these birds as they migrate across North America.  Local land use planning data and telemetry location data will be analyzed using GIS mapping to determine any potential habitat loss impacts.