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Investigating the practicality of using radio tracking to determine home range and movements of Picathartidae

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Radiotelemetry is an important tool used to aid the understanding and conservation of cryptic and rare birds. The two bird species of the family Picathartidae are little-known, secretive, forest-dwelling birds endemic to western and central Africa. In 2005, we conducted a radio-tracking trial of Grey-necked Picathartes Picathartes oreas in the Mbam Minkom Mountain Forest, southern Cameroon, using neck collar (two birds) and tail-mounted (four birds) transmitters to investigate the practicality of radio-tracking Picathartidae. Three birds with tail-mounted transmitters were successfully tracked with the fourth, though not relocated for radio tracking, resighted the following breeding season. Two of these were breeding birds that continued to provision young during radio tracking. One neck-collared bird was found dead three days after transmitter attachment and the other neither relocated nor resighted. As mortality in one bird was potentially caused by the neck collar transmitter we recommend tail-mounted transmitters in future radio-tracking studies of Picathartidae. Home ranges, shown using minimum convex polygon and kernel estimation methods, were generally small (<0.5 km2) and centred around breeding sites. A minimum of 60 fixes were found to be sufficient for home range estimation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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