Subcutaneous anchor attachment increases retention of radio transmitters on Xantus' and marbled murrelets

Journal of Field Ornithology

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We modified a subcutaneous anchor attachment and achieved transmitter reten- tion times that exceeded those reported previously for other attachments used on alcids. Traditional suture and epoxy attachment methods were used on Xantus' Murrelets in 1995 and 1996, while the modified attachment was used for Xantus' Murrelets in 1996 and 1997 and Marbled Murrelets in 1997. Modifications included use of an inhalant anesthetic, placing the anchor in a more cranial position on the back, application of marine epoxy, and place- ment of a single subcutaneous non-absorbable suture at the caudal end of the radio to hold the radio in place initially. We located 22 of 56 (39%) Xantus' Murrelets radio-marked using suture and epoxy during aerial surveys in 1995 and 1996. Of birds radio-marked using the subcutaneous anchor attachment, we located 92 of 113 (81%) Xantus' Murrelets marked in 1996 and 1997 and all 28 (100%) Marbled Murrelets marked in 1997 during aerial surveys. The maximum confirmed duration for the subcutaneous anchor transmitter attachment was 51 d for Xantus' Murrelets and 78 d for Marbled Murrelets versus 41 d for the suture and epoxy attachment used on Xantus' Murrelets. Recapture rates of radio-marked Xantus' Mur- relets were similar to recapture rates of unmarked Xantus' Murrelets. Our post-release ob- servations indicated negligible short-term physical effects from the attachment procedure, while telemetry data and examination of recaptured murrelets indicated no evidence of infection or other long-term physical effects. Breeding behavior of some murrelets was not disrupted; however, further evaluation of potential effects of this attachment technique on breeding and behavior is needed.

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Journal Article
Subcutaneous anchor attachment increases retention of radio transmitters on Xantus' and marbled murrelets
Series title:
Journal of Field Ornithology
Year Published:
Association of Field Ornithologists
Contributing office(s):
Western Ecological Research Center
15 p.
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