Factors influencing immediate post-release survival of spectacled eiders following surgical implantation of transmitters with percutaneous antennae

Journal of Wildlife Management
By: , and 

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Abstract

Surgically implanted transmitters are a common method for tracking animal movements. Immediately following surgical implantation, animals pass through a critical recovery phase when behaviors may deviate from normal and the likelihood of individual survival may be reduced. Therefore, data collected during this period may be censored to minimize bias introduced by surgery-related behaviors or mortality. However, immediate post-release mortalities negate a sampling effort and reduce the amount of data potentially collected after the censoring period. Wildlife biologists should employ methods to support an animal’s survival through this period, but factors contributing to immediate post-release survival have not been formally assessed. We evaluated factors that potentially influenced the immediate post-release survival of 56 spectacled eiders (Somateria fischeri) marked with coelomically implanted satellite transmitters with percutaneous antennae in northern Alaska in 2010 and 2011. We modeled survival through the first 14 days following release and assessed the relative importance and effect of 15 covariates hypothesized to influence survival during this immediate post-release period. Estimated daily survival rate increased over the duration of the immediate post-release period; the probability of mortality was greatest within the first 5 days following release. Our top-ranking model included the effect of 2 blood analytes, pH and hematocrit, measured prior to surgical implantation of a transmitter. We found a positive response to pH; eiders exhibiting acidemia (low pH) prior to surgery were less likely to survive the immediate post-release period. We found a curvilinear response to hematocrit; eiders exhibiting extremely low or high pre-surgery hematocrit were also less likely to survive the immediate post-release period. In the interest of maximizing the survival of marked birds following release, hematological data obtained prior to surgical implantation of telemetry equipment may be useful when screening for optimal surgical candidates or informing appropriate response to mitigate potentially deleterious disorders such as acidemia.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Factors influencing immediate post-release survival of spectacled eiders following surgical implantation of transmitters with percutaneous antennae
Series title Journal of Wildlife Management
DOI 10.1002/jwmg.690
Volume 78
Issue 3
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center Biology WTEB
Description 11 p.
First page 550
Last page 560
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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