Tiny transmitters can track migration of Monarch butterflies

A migration tracking system that can track movements of birds, bats and even large insects will soon expand across New England, thanks to a nearly $1 million federal grant.

The grant will be used to establish 50 automated telemetry receiving stations in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. The receivers can track movements of animals tagged with radio transmitters. These nanotags are tiny enough to be placed on monarch butterflies and dragonflies.

The three-year U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service competitive state wildlife grant of $998,000 will be matched by $355,500 in private funds. New Hampshire Fish and Game, the lead agency for the project, will partner with fellow departments in Maine, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, as well as New Hampshire Audubon, among others.

“New Hampshire’s Wildlife Action Plan identifies dozens of migratory birds, bats, and insects as species of greatest conservation need,” Michael Marchand, supervisor of the Nongame & Endangered Wildlife Program, NH Fish and Game Department, said in a news release.

“Conserving these species requires knowledge of how they use and move through New Hampshire’s landscape, as well as across other political boundaries. Information gathered from this new technology, coupled with other ongoing research and conservation efforts, will be important in implementing effective conservation measures for these species.”

The receiver array will be part of the rapidly expanding Motus Wildlife Tracking System (motus.org), established in 2013 by Bird Studies Canada. The Motus network includes nearly 900 receiving stations around the world, according to the news release.

Read More »