Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Effects of harness-attached tracking devices on survival, migration, and reproduction in three species of migratory waterfowl
Lameris, Thomas K. ; Müskens, Gerhard J.D.M. ; Kölzsch, Andrea ; Dokter, Adriaan M. ; Jeugd, Henk P. van der; Nolet, Bart A. - \ 2018
Animal Biotelemetry 6 (2018). - ISSN 2050-3385
Barnacle Goose - Brent Goose - Geolocators - GPS tracking - Greater White-fronted Goose - Tag effects

Background: Tracking devices have enabled researchers to study unique aspects of behavior in birds. However, it has become clear that attaching these devices to birds often affects their survival and behavior. While most studies only focus on negative effects on return rates, tracking devices can also affect the behavior under study, and it is therefore important to measure potential negative effects of tracking device attachment on the full range of behavioral aspects of birds. At the same time, we should aim to improve our current attachment methods to reduce these effects. Results: We used a modified harness to attach tracking devices to a total of 111 individuals of three goose species (Greater White-fronted Geese, Brent Geese, and Barnacle Geese) to study their migratory behavior. By creating control groups of birds marked with colored leg bands, geolocators, and/or neck collars, we were able to compare return rates, body condition, and migratory and reproductive behavior, thus allowing a much broader comparison than return rates alone. Birds with harness-attached tracking devices had lower return rates, which could partly be explained by increased rates of divorce, but is likely also the result of reduced survival induced by the harness and device. A comparison between Barnacle Geese equipped with harness-attached tracking devices and individuals fitted with geolocators attached to leg bands showed that birds equipped with tracking devices were only slightly delayed in timing of migration and reproduction and otherwise were not affected in reproductive output. Conclusions: We argue that tracking devices can be used for studies on migration timing. Nevertheless, given the effect of tracking devices on survival and divorce rate, which may differ between sexes and species, we stress that researchers should carefully consider which birds to tag in order to reduce potential negative effects.

Neckband or backpack? Differences in tag design and their effects on GPS/accelerometer tracking results in large waterbirds
Kölzsch, Andrea ; Neefjes, Marjolein ; Barkway, Jude ; Müskens, G.J.D.M. ; Langevelde, Frank van; Boer, Willem F. de; Prins, Herbert H.T. ; Cresswell, Brian H. ; Nolet, Bart A. - \ 2016
Animal Biotelemetry 4 (2016)1. - ISSN 2050-3385
GPS and accelerometer tracking presently revolutionises the fields of ecology and animal behaviour. However, the effects of tag characteristics like weight, attachment and data quality on study outcomes and animal welfare are important to consider. In this study, we compare how different tag attachment types influence the behaviour of a group of tagged large waterbirds, GPS accuracy and behaviour classification success from accelerometer data.

Both neckband and backpack tags had similar effects on the behaviour of six captive Canada geese (Branta canadensis), increasing the amount of discomfort behaviour in relation to untagged individuals. Both treatment groups also slightly decreased the amount of foraging, but the duration of neither vigilance nor resting was affected. GPS positions that were filtered with classical GPS platform settings (i.e. smoothing) were more accurate than positions improved by satellite-based differential augmentation. Tag attachment, however, did not induce any differences in position accuracy of both data types. Behaviour classification success was generally similar for neckband and backpack tags. But in detail, behaviours mainly performed by the head like foraging and vigilance were better detected from accelerometer data of neckband tags, whereas behaviours like resting and walking were more successfully detected from backpack tag data.

Our findings suggest that the use of neckband or backpack tags for tracking large waterbirds and their behaviour largely depends on which behaviours are most important to detect. However, for wildlife tracking studies, factors like tag retention time are also of great importance, especially for animals like some goose species that are known to quickly destroy backpack tags. For future studies, we advise to carefully evaluate not only tag weight, but also attachment methods and data quality, because the right choice depends on the research question. This will improve the scope of wildlife tracking even more for various scientific, conservation and management applications.
Towards a new understanding of migration timing : Slower spring than autumn migration in geese reflects different decision rules for stopover use and departure
Kölzsch, Andrea ; Muskens, Gerard ; Kruckenberg, Helmut ; Glazov, Peter ; Weinzierl, Rolf ; Nolet, Bart A. ; Wikelski, Martin - \ 2016
Oikos 125 (2016)10. - ISSN 0030-1299 - p. 1496 - 1507.

According to migration theory and several empirical studies, long-distance migrants are more time-limited during spring migration and should therefore migrate faster in spring than in autumn. Competition for the best breeding sites is supposed to be the main driver, but timing of migration is often also influenced by environmental factors such as food availability and wind conditions. Using GPS tags, we tracked 65 greater white-fronted geese Anser albifrons migrating between western Europe and the Russian Arctic during spring and autumn migration over six different years. Contrary to theory, our birds took considerably longer for spring migration (83 days) than autumn migration (42 days). This difference in duration was mainly determined by time spent at stopovers. Timing and space use during migration suggest that the birds were using different strategies in the two seasons: In spring they spread out in a wide front to acquire extra energy stores in many successive stopover sites (to fuel capital breeding), which is in accordance with previous results that white-fronted geese follow the green wave of spring growth. In autumn they filled up their stores close to the breeding grounds and waited for supportive wind conditions to quickly move to their wintering grounds. Selection for supportive winds was stronger in autumn, when general wind conditions were less favourable than in spring, leading to similar flight speeds in the two seasons. In combination with less stopover time in autumn this led to faster autumn than spring migration. White-fronted geese thus differ from theory that spring migration is faster than autumn migration. We expect our findings of different decision rules between the two migratory seasons to apply more generally, in particular in large birds in which capital breeding is common, and in birds that meet other environmental conditions along their migration route in autumn than in spring.

Experimental evidence for inherent Lévy search behaviour in foraging animals
Kölzsch, A. ; Alzate, A. ; Bartumeus, F. ; Jager, M. de; Weerman, E.J. ; Hengeveld, G.M. ; Naguib, M. ; Nolet, B.A. ; Koppel, J. van de - \ 2015
Proceedings of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences 282 (2015)1807. - ISSN 0962-8452 - 9 p.
correlated-random-walks - environmental complexity - wandering albatrosses - movement patterns - marine predator - flight - strategies - success - evolve - scale
Recently, Lévy walks have been put forward as a new paradigm for animal search and many cases have been made for its presence in nature. However, it remains debated whether Lévy walks are an inherent behavioural strategy or emerge from the animal reacting to its habitat. Here, we demonstrate signatures of Lévy behaviour in the search movement of mud snails (Hydrobia ulvae) based on a novel, direct assessment of movement properties in an experimental set-up using different food distributions. Our experimental data uncovered clusters of small movement steps alternating with long moves independent of food encounter and landscape complexity. Moreover, size distributions of these clusters followed truncated power laws. These two findings are characteristic signatures of mechanisms underlying inherent Lévy-like movement. Thus, our study provides clear experimental evidence that such multi-scale movement is an inherent behaviour rather than resulting from the animal interacting with its environment.
Deriving animal behaviour from high-frequency GPS: tracking cows in open and forested habitat
Weerd, N. de; Langevelde, F. van; Oeveren, H. van; Nolet, B.A. ; Kölzsch, A. ; Prins, H.H.T. ; Boer, W.F. de - \ 2015
PLoS One 10 (2015)6. - ISSN 1932-6203 - 17 p.
collar performance - large herbivores - telemetry data - movement - cattle - ecology - states - technology - selection - position
The increasing spatiotemporal accuracy of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) tracking systems opens the possibility to infer animal behaviour from tracking data.We studied the relationship between high-frequency GNSS data and behaviour, aimed at developing an easily interpretable classification method to infer behaviour from location data. Behavioural observations were carried out during tracking of cows (Bos Taurus) fitted with high-frequency GPS (Global Positioning System) receivers. Data were obtained in an open field and forested area, and movement metrics were calculated for 1 min, 12 s and 2 s intervals. We observed four behaviour types (Foraging, Lying, Standing and Walking). We subsequently used Classification and Regression Trees to classify the simultaneously obtained GPS data as these behaviour types, based on distances and turning angles between fixes. GPS data with a 1 min interval from the open field was classified correctly for more than 70% of the samples. Data from the 12 s and 2 s interval could not be classified successfully, emphasizing that the interval should be long enough for the behaviour to be defined by its characteristic movement metrics. Data obtained in the forested area were classified with a lower accuracy (57%) than the data from the open field, due to a larger positional error of GPS locations and differences in behavioural performance influenced by the habitat type. This demonstrates the importance of understanding the relationship between behaviour and movement metrics, derived from GNSS fixes at different frequencies and in different habitats, in order to successfully infer behaviour. When spatially accurate location data can be obtained, behaviour can be inferred from high-frequency GNSS fixes by calculating simple movement metrics and using easily interpretable decision trees. This allows for the combined study of animal behaviour and habitat use based on location data, and might make it possible to detect deviations in behaviour at the individual level.
How superdiffusion gets arrested: ecological encounters explain shift from Lévy to Brownian movement
Jager, M. de; Bartumeus, F. ; Kölzsch, A. ; Weissing, F.J. ; Hengeveld, G.M. ; Nolet, B.A. ; Herman, P.M.J. ; Koppel, J. van de - \ 2014
Proceedings of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences 281 (2014)1774. - ISSN 0962-8452 - 8 p.
power-law distributions - flight search patterns - environmental complexity - walks evolve - predators - dynamics - animals - mussels - success
Ecological theory uses Brownian motion as a default template for describing ecological movement, despite limited mechanistic underpinning. The generality of Brownian motion has recently been challenged by empirical studies that highlight alternative movement patterns of animals, especially when foraging in resource-poor environments. Yet, empirical studies reveal animals moving in a Brownian fashion when resources are abundant. We demonstrate that Einstein's original theory of collision-induced Brownian motion in physics provides a parsimonious, mechanistic explanation for these observations. Here, Brownian motion results from frequent encounters between organisms in dense environments. In density-controlled experiments, movement patterns of mussels shifted from Lévy towards Brownian motion with increasing density. When the analysis was restricted to moves not truncated by encounters, this shift did not occur. Using a theoretical argument, we explain that any movement pattern approximates Brownian motion at high-resource densities, provided that movement is interrupted upon encounters. Hence, the observed shift to Brownian motion does not indicate a density-dependent change in movement strategy but rather results from frequent collisions. Our results emphasize the need for a more mechanistic use of Brownian motion in ecology, highlighting that especially in rich environments, Brownian motion emerges from ecological interactions, rather than being a default movement pattern
Animal behaviour analysis with GPS and 3D accelerometers
Spink, A. ; Cresswell, B. ; Kölzsch, A. ; Langevelde, F. van; Neefjes, M. ; Noldus, L.P.J.J. ; Oeveren, H. van; Prins, H.H.T. ; Wal, T. van der; Weerd, N. de; Boer, W.F. de - \ 2013
In: Precision livestock farming, 10-12 September, 2013, Leuven, Belgium. - Leuven : - p. 229 - 239.
A herd of dairy cows were equipped with GPS tracking collars and at the same time, their behaviour was manually scored with Pocket Observer software. TrackLab was used to visualize the data. The manually scored behaviours were used to classify the GPS data, and for foraging, resting and walking, the GPS data had a very high predictive value for the behaviours. Although ruminating and standing could not be distinguished on the basis of GPS data alone, a further experiment on Canada Geese indicated that the addition of accelerometer data to the GPS tags showed very promising results with respect to distinguishing more behaviours than could be classified using GPS alone. This opens up a spectrum of possibilities for farm mangers including automatic detection oestrus in cattle and geofencing applications.
Individually tracked geese follow the green wave during spring migration
Wijk, R.E. van; Kölzsch, A. ; Kruckenberg, H. ; Ebbinge, B.S. ; Müskens, G.J.D.M. ; Nolet, B.A. - \ 2012
Oikos 121 (2012)5. - ISSN 0030-1299 - p. 655 - 664.
goose branta-leucopsis - vegetation index - greylag geese - green-wave - climate - phenology - onset - ecology - birds - patch
Many migratory herbivores seem to follow the flush of plant growth during migration in order to acquire the most nutrient-rich plants. This has also been hypothesized for arctic-breeding geese, but so far no test of this so-called green wave hypothesis has been performed at the individual level. During four years, a total of 30 greater white-fronted geese Anser albifrons albifrons was tracked using GPS transmitters, of which 13 yielded complete spring migration tracks. From those birds we defined stopover sites and related the date of arrival at each of these stopovers to temperature sum (growing degree days, GDD), snow cover, accumulated photoperiod and latitude. We found that geese arrived at spring stopovers close to the peak in GDD jerk; the ‘jerk’ is the third derivative, or the rate of change in acceleration, and GDD jerk maxima therefore represent the highest acceleration of daily temperature per site. Day of snow melt also correlated well with the observed arrival of the geese. Factors not closely related to onset of spring, i.e. accumulated photoperiod and latitude, yielded poorer fits. A comparison with published data revealed that the GDD jerk occurs 1–2 weeks earlier than the onset of spring derived from NDVI, and probably represents the very start of spring growth. Our data therefore suggest that white-fronted geese track the front of the green wave in spring
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