In lieu of the poster session at our 2020 conference, we are profiling posters from this year’s conference on our website every month. Check out Jonathan Farr’s research about an Alberta favourite, the Black-Capped Chickadee.
Poster authors: Jonathan Farr, Elène Have-Audet, Dr. Kimberley Mathot
Poster title: Pitted Against the Odds: Do PIT Tags Affect Black-Capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) Survival or Body Condition? (pdf of poster here)
PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) tags are microchips that function as unique barcodes for individual animals, and are detected by a radio frequency identification (RFID) device. Jonathan’s research aims to understand if the attachment or carrying tags impacts chickadee survival or body condition.
PIT tags can be attached to a bird’s leg using a specially designed band or injected subcutaneously between the shoulders. Members of Jonathan’s lab captured and tagged 77 birds with leg bands and 73 with subcutaneous implants in the fall of 2017 and 2018. Jonathan used cox proportional hazards models to determine if carrying the tags affects survival and used a linear regression model to search for differences in the body mass of PIT tagged birds.
Jonathan found no detectable effects of the tags on Black-Capped Chickadee survival or body condition. Due to their higher retention, simpler attachment methodology, and higher RFID detection rates, leg bands are preferable.
Research like Jonathan’s is crucial for wildlife researchers to improve their understanding of what, if any, impacts our research methods have on animal survival and behaviour. Jonathan’s poster is well put together with engaging photographs and valuable information! Well done!
Jonathan is entering his fourth year of his Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Alberta. He enjoys learning about topics including behavioural ecology, human-wildlife conflict, and science communication. This summer, Jonathan is loving his work as a member of the vegetation management team at Banff National Park. You are most likely to find Jonathan on iNaturalist trying to identify a rare plant, sipping expensive coffee, or hiking mountains that his mother would not consider safe.