Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 158, Issue 2, pp 593–601 | Cite as

A field test of the effects of body composition analysis by quantitative magnetic resonance on songbird stopover behaviour

  • Lisa V. KennedyEmail author
  • Yolanda E. Morbey
  • Stuart A. Mackenzie
  • Philip D. Taylor
  • Christopher G. Guglielmo
Original Article


Quantitative magnetic resonance (QMR) is a non-invasive technology used to measure body composition. It has great potential to advance the study of energetics and fuel use of migratory birds. However, there is concern that exposure to a strong magnetic field during QMR analysis could affect magnetite-based geomagnetic senses of migratory songbirds which may be important for orientation and navigation. We used radiotelemetry and capture-mark-recapture analysis to test for effects of QMR analysis on stopover duration and departure orientation. There was no evidence from radiotelemetry data that QMR analysis influenced minimum stopover duration or departure orientation of Black-throated Blue Warblers (Setophaga caerulescens) in the spring or fall, or Magnolia Warblers (Setophaga magnolia) in the spring. Capture-mark-recapture analysis of White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) ringing data showed no effects of QMR on transiency or recapture probability, but a slight increase in estimated stopover duration (days) in the fall. Our study provides evidence that stopover duration and departure orientation of migrating songbirds are not significantly affected by QMR analysis with the exception of fall stopover duration estimates from mark-recapture models, and that QMR is a safe technique for the study of birds in the field.


Migration Orientation Radiotelemetry Capture-mark-recapture White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis 


Ein Freilandtest zur Prüfung möglicher Auswirkungen der Quantitative Magnetresonanztomographie (QMRT) zu Bestimmung der Körperzusammensetzung auf das Verhalten von Zugvögeln während ihrer Rast

Quantitative Magnetresonanztomographie (QMRT) ist eine nicht-invasive Methode zur Messung von Körperzusammensetzungen. Sie hat ein großes Potential, Untersuchungen zu Energetik und „Treibstoff“-Nutzung von Zugvögeln voranzubringen. Es gibt jedoch Bedenken, ob das starke Magnetfeld während der QMRT-Analyse Auswirkungen auf den auf Magnetit basierenden und für Orientierung und Navigation wichtigen Magnetsinn der Zugvögel haben könnte. Wir benutzten Radiotelemetrie und Wiederfänge beringter Vögel, um die QMRT-Analyse auf mögliche Effekte auf Rastdauer und auf die Orientierung beim Abflug zu testen. Die Radiotelemetrie ergab keinerlei Nachweise dafür, dass sich die QMRT-Analyse auf die kurze Dauer eines Zwischenstopps oder auf die Orientierung beim Abflug auswirkte. Getestet wurde dies für den Blaurücken-Waldsänger (Setophaga caerulescens) im Frühjahr und im Herbst und für den Magnolien-Waldsänger (Setophaga magnolia) im Frühjahr. Fang-Wiederfang-Analysen bei Weißkehlammern (Zonotrichia albicollis) zeigten keine Effekte der QMRT auf Durchzug und Wiederfang-Wahrscheinlichkeit, aber einen leichten Anstieg der Rastdauer (in Tagen) während des Herbstzugs. Unsere Untersuchung belegt, dass durch eine QMRT-Analyse weder die Rastdauer noch die Orientierung beim Abflug von Zugvögeln signifikant beeinflusst sind, ausgenommen der anhand von Wiederfang-Modellen geschätzten Rastdauer im Herbst. QMRT zeigt sich als eine sichere Methode für Freilanduntersuchungen.



We would like to thank Long Point Bird Observatory and Bird Studies Canada for use of their facilities and the assistance provided by staff and volunteers. We thank Bethany Thurber, Annika Samuelson, and Brendan McCabe (2009) and Morgan Brown, Taylor Brown, Alex MacMillan, Ivan Maggini, and Taylor Marshall (2015) for their assistance with fieldwork. Funding sources include research or equipment grants to C. G. G. [NSERC Discovery Grant (DG), Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and Ontario Research Fund (ORF)], P. D. T. (NSERC DG), and Y. E. M. (NSERC DG, CFI, and ORF), Environment Canada, and an NSERC Canada graduate scholarship to S. A. M. All animal procedures complied with Canadian laws and regulations.


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa V. Kennedy
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yolanda E. Morbey
    • 1
  • Stuart A. Mackenzie
    • 2
  • Philip D. Taylor
    • 2
    • 3
  • Christopher G. Guglielmo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biology, Advanced Facility for Avian ResearchWestern UniversityLondonCanada
  2. 2.Bird Studies Canada-Long Point Bird ObservatoryPort RowanCanada
  3. 3.Department of BiologyAcadia UniversityWolfvilleCanada

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