Winterl Alexander

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  • Article
    Biologging of emperor penguins-attachment techniques and associated deployment performance
    (Public Library of Science, 2022-08-04) Houstin, Aymeric ; Zitterbart, Daniel ; Winterl, Alexander ; Richter, Sebastian ; Planas-Bielsa, Víctor ; Chevallier, Damien ; Ancel, André ; Fournier, Jérôme ; Fabry, Ben ; Le Bohec, Céline
    An increasing number of marine animals are equipped with biologgers, to study their physiology, behaviour and ecology, often for conservation purposes. To minimise the impacts of biologgers on the animals’ welfare, the Refinement principle from the Three Rs framework (Replacement, Reduction, Refinement) urges to continuously test and evaluate new and updated biologging protocols. Here, we propose alternative and promising techniques for emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) capture and on-site logger deployment that aim to mitigate the potential negative impacts of logger deployment on these birds. We equipped adult emperor penguins for short-term (GPS, Time-Depth Recorder (TDR)) and long-term (i.e. planned for one year) deployments (ARGOS platforms, TDR), as well as juvenile emperor penguins for long-term deployments (ARGOS platforms) in the Weddell Sea area where they had not yet been studied. We describe and qualitatively evaluate our protocols for the attachment of biologgers on-site at the colony, the capture of the animals and the recovery of the devices after deployment. We report unprecedented recaptures of long-term equipped adult emperor penguins (50% of equipped individuals recaptured after 290 days). Our data demonstrate that the traditional technique of long-term attachment by gluing the biologgers directly to the back feathers causes excessive feather breakage and the loss of the devices after a few months. We therefore propose an alternative method of attachment for back-mounted devices. This technique led to successful year-round deployments on 37.5% of the equipped juveniles. Finally, we also disclose the first deployments of leg-bracelet mounted TDRs on emperor penguins. Our findings highlight the importance of monitoring potential impacts of biologger deployments on the animals and the need to continue to improve methods to minimize disturbance and enhance performance and results.