Implications of radio-tracking for the survival of Masked Lapwing chicks

Monitoring survival of free-living, precocial avian young is difficult. Perhaps the most promising method available is a combination of radio-tracking and frequent investigator brood visits. The aim of this study was to determine if the process of radio-tracking negatively impacts chick survival by comparing survival of tagged chicks with that of their untagged siblings. We radio-tracked 50 Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles chicks and compared within-brood mortality of tagged and untagged chicks to examine whether attaching radio-transmitters influenced chick survival. There was no difference in survival between the two categories of chicks, so the survival of lapwing chicks was not affected by radiotracking. However, members of smaller, less robust and possibly less habituated species may still be negatively affected by radio-tracking. Radio-tracking seems to be an ethically acceptable and practical method for obtaining an improved understanding of cryptic life history stages, such as brood-rearing, in waders.

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