Marine Biology

, Volume 159, Issue 8, pp 1809–1816 | Cite as

Impact of miniature geolocation loggers on a small petrel, the thin-billed prion Pachyptila belcheri

  • Petra QuillfeldtEmail author
  • Rona A. R. McGill
  • Robert W. Furness
  • Erich Möstl
  • Katrin Ludynia
  • Juan F. Masello
Original Paper


Effects of deployment of miniaturised transmitters and loggers have been studied mainly in diving seabirds such as penguins, and less so in flying seabirds. However, some studies of albatrosses and petrels recorded extended trip durations and elevated rates of nest desertion following device attachment, especially if transmitter loads exceeded 3 % of adult mass. Studies have usually compared performance parameters such as trip duration, meal mass, breeding success or rate of return in the next season between birds with devices and controls. We here examined the effects of geolocator loggers (Global Location Sensing, (GLS)) on thin-billed prions Pachyptila belcheri (130 g), by comparing performance parameters and additionally eco-physiological parameters. GLS weighed ca. 1 % of the body mass, and were fixed on leg rings, which may influence the flight efficiency by creating an asymmetric load. We found no differences in the performance parameters, either in the season of attachment or the season following recovery. Similar stable isotope ratios in adult blood and feather samples further indicated that the foraging ecology was not influenced. However, after 1 year of logger deployment, adults differed in their hormonal response to stress: while baseline corticosterone levels were not influenced, corticosterone levels in response to handling were elevated. Moreover, increased heterophil/lymphocyte ratios and a decreased tail growth in winter suggest that carrying the GLS was energetically costly, and adults adapted physiologically to the higher work load, while keeping up a normal breeding performance.


Corticosterone Level Stable Isotope Ratio Trip Duration Tail Feather Baseline Corticosterone 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Fieldwork at New Island was supported by the New Island Conservation Trust, Ian, Maria and Georgina Strange, was approved by the Falkland Islands Government (Environmental Planning Office) and funded by grants provided by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG (Qu 148/1ff). We thank Hendrika (Riek) van Noordwijk and Gabriele Schafheitle for help in the field and laboratory, respectively. Funding for the stable isotope work was provided by the Natural Environment Research Council, UK (Grant NE/102237X/1) and carried out at the Life Sciences Mass Spectrometry Facility. We would like to thank Heiko Schmaljohann and Sylvie Vandenabeele for helpful comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Petra Quillfeldt
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Rona A. R. McGill
    • 3
  • Robert W. Furness
    • 4
  • Erich Möstl
    • 5
  • Katrin Ludynia
    • 1
    • 6
  • Juan F. Masello
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für OrnithologieVogelwarte RadolfzellGermany
  2. 2.Department of Animal Ecology and SystematicsJustus Liebig University GiessenGiessenGermany
  3. 3.Life Sciences Mass Spectrometry FacilityScottish Universities Environmental Research CentreEast Kilbride, GlasgowUK
  4. 4.College of Medical, Veterinary and Life SciencesUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK
  5. 5.Department of Natural Sciences-BiochemistryVeterinary University of ViennaViennaAustria
  6. 6.Animal Demography Unit, Department of ZoologyUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa

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