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Hawk photograph

Luke Hawk

Advisor: Dr. Mike Eichholz

The Application of Light-Level Geolocation for Waterfowl Ecology and Management in North America

Waterfowl in North America use nutrient reserves obtained outside of the breeding season as a significant source of the energy for reproduction, with some species losing as much as 25% of their body mass from nest initiation through incubation. The acquisition and maintenance of these reserves requires individuals to make periodic stops as they transition to breeding areas. Light-level geolocation represents a recent advancement in logger technology that could allow for the large sample sizes needed to build individual-based models to estimate the habitat requirements of migrating waterfowl. Light-level geolocators use the length and timing of day to estimate the daily location of an individual. The geolocators are smaller and less expensive than current methods for tracking long-distance migrants, but these advantages come at the cost of diminished accuracy for location estimates. My research involves testing the accuracy of these geolocators by placing them in habitats commonly used by waterfowl, including open fields, emergent vegetation, and bottomland hardwoods. I will then evaluate the accuracy of location estimates to determine if light-level geolocation is suited to identify key stopover actions of individual waterfowl and better direct management activities.