GPS collars, camera traps, and something called a "beakometer"
November 25, 2016 9:39 AM   Subscribe

Where the Animals Go, excerpts from the book and online databases Movebank and zoaTrack
posted by the man of twists and turns (2 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you! It's a wonderful post. Somehow seeing an animal's movements on a map helps me imagine more of the experience of the animal.
posted by Emmy Noether at 1:20 PM on November 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

More on "beakometers" and "bumometers":
It’s early May. I am sitting with 15 other Oxford biology students in a seminar, as part of a course on ecology and conservation. The room is dark and hot, with the last of the afternoon sunlight streaming through a narrow gap in the curtains. All eyes are fixed on Rory Wilson, a professor visiting from Swansea University. “After we’d made the magnets small enough to fit in their bums,” he explains, “the difficult part was figuring out how powerful to make them.”
Wilson has developed a device called a ‘beakometer’ that consists of a tiny magnet and a transducer – one attaches to the lower half of the beak, one to the upper. The transducer responds to the strength of the magnetic field, recording the opening and shutting of the beak. This conveys a surprising amount of information, since activities such as breathing and eating leave unique, identifiable signatures in the data. By analysing the erratic patterns in a spidery line graph you can tell whether a penguin is swallowing a fish or a squid and even how large it is.

There is also a parallel device called a ‘bumometer’ – hence Wilson’s backyard R&D with magnetic suppositories. The bumometer measures the obvious bodily function in addition to heart rate, body temperature and breathing rate. These enable accurate estimates of energy expenditure, giving us an idea of the cost of particular behaviours. It turns out that penguins catch fish fairly effortlessly, using their natural buoyancy to swoop up at fish from below, as graceful in water as they are ungainly on land.
posted by cynical pinnacle at 1:38 PM on November 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

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