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Many telemetry transmitter attachments disrupt downy insulation, and may bias survival studies during cold weather by making ducklings more susceptible to chilling. We compared thermal responses of untreated 1-day-old mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) to ducklings carrying external sutured backpack or subcutaneously implanted transmitters. Ducklings carrying external transmitters showed areas of increased surface temperature in thermographic images. However, open-circuit respirometry studies at 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 C and wind speeds of 0.1, 0.2, 0.5, and 1 m/s indicated no biologically significant differences in total heat production, net heat production, or short-term body mass loss. These results do not exclude the possibility of other negative effects of transmitters on duckling behavior and survival.
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Thermoregulatory effects of radiotelemetry transmitters on mallard ducklings