EAAF Shorebird Tracking Group 1st Webinar

The EAAF Shorebird Tracking Group, established in 2021 following the 1st East Asian-Australasian Flyway Shorebird Science Meeting in 2020, held the first webinar on 13th April, 2021. It aims to gather scientists who are studying migratory shorebirds through tracking in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Four speakers from Alaska, China, Bangladesh and Australia shared their tracking project findings and discussed their ideas and thoughts on tracking studies and how to apply such knowledge to conservation. The event was part of the project supported by EAAFP Small Grant Fund for Working Groups and Task Forces.

Tracking birds has been applied for the study of bird migration. Basic methods such as colour marking with wing tags, neck bands, leg bands and legflags has been used extensively for many years. In recent years, with advanced technology of tracking devices, such as geolocators, radio telemetry, satellite telemetry, these new tools help us to understand more about birds’ migration.

With insights of the need to improve information and experience exchange, EAAF Shorebird Tracking Group was established in 2021 following the 1st East Asian-Australasian Flyway Shorebird Science Meeting that was held in November 2020. Following that, the Group initiated to form communication network for researchers in the field, aiming to support and facilitate the exchange of ideas and sharing of techniques, to foster collaboration between researchers. Since its inception, the EAAF Shorebird Tracking Group has 72 members from 15 countries. Ms. Ginny Chan is coordinating a directory, with at present 36 projects listed on-going in the Flyway, click [here] to have a look.

To commence the webinar, Dr. Rick Lanctot from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, also the EAAFP Shorebird Working Group Chair presented on “The role of shorebird movement studies in advancing shorebird conservation in North America” sharing his knowledge and experiences on study of bird migration in North America in early days and how the development of satellite tracking benefits and enhances the efficiency of acquiring accurate information of migratory waterbirds. He also stressed the needs for information sharing on results and updates on the techniques updates. Another point from Dr. Lanctot was the necessity of combining the tracking and observation data to support conservation.

Presenting on “Tracking the annual cycle of the Bohai Black-tailed Godwit”, Mr. Bingrun Zhu from China updated the ongoing tracking project of Black-tailed Godwit on the newly suggested Bohai subspecies. With 21 Bohai Black-tailed Godwit individuals fitted with tracking transmitters to identify breeding, stopover and wintering sites, and the migratory routes. Satellite tracking data further supported the traditional measurement evidence (morphology and genetics) to identify the subspecies, and gave insights of migration strategies of different subspecies of Black-tailed Godwit.

In the same notion, Mr. Delip Das from Bangladesh presented “Uncovering international connections of Eurasian Curlew in Bangladesh” sharing new information on the migration patterns of the Eurasian Curlew as it departs Bangladesh. The data from this tracking project has revealed that the tracked birds crossed the Himalayas during migration and showed interesting behaviour of the bird. The data will be used for local conservation plans as migration patterns have been identified and more updates on the migration of the Eurasian Curlew are to be expected.

To conclude the session, the final presenter Dr. Brad Woodworth from Australia presented “Migratory connectivity and differential population trends in an Endangered shorebird”. In his presentation, he focused on the Far Eastern Curlew, the largest migratory shorebird in the world which is endemic to the EAAF. This species has undergone massive population decline over the years. Tracking results of 21 individuals informed the connectivity between breeding and non-breeding grounds to population trends, and demonstrated impact intensity varies in different populations using different sites, especially many waterbirds are site-faithful. This project not only illustrated the migration of threatened Far Eastern Curlew but also identify threats to the birds and thus would benefit conservation measures.

Following the four presentations, the subsequent Q&A session brought interesting discussions on the various tracking initiatives and the development of the Shorebird Tracking Group. More research needs to be done to identify threats pose on migratory waterbirds in the Flyway. The EAAF Shorebird Tracking Group webinar conveyed the message the necessity for input to share information of the various study groups and projects, and create a hub to link up researchers and gather ideas of existing work, which would contribute to conservation at ground level.

Watch the Webinar:

For more details:

Join the EAAF Shorebird Tracking Group: https://forms.gle/CHbntPrMCGypGiZK6
East Asian-Australasian Flyway Shorebird Tracking Projects Directory: https://eaafprojects.netlify.app/
To include your project to the directory: https://form.jotform.com/210225083733043
EAAFP Shorebird Working Group: https://eaaflyway.net/shorebird-working-group/

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