Major advance in global raptor monitoring

Posted on October 16, 2017 in Science

Hawk Mountain contributes to major advance in global raptor monitoring

On October 16, 2017, an unmanned Russian supply ship successfully docked at the International Space Station. Along with supplies for the astronauts aboard, the ship delivered the new antenna that will help reduce the cost of tracking raptors globally from more than $4000 a unit to less than $600.

The international team of scientists, statisticians, and movement ecologists that helped jump-start this development met to discuss this ambitious venture in the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Acopian Center in February of 2009. This advancement, organized by Max Planck with the Institute for Ornithology in Germany, will allow global conservationists and researchers to conduct raptor monitoring programs more efficiently and cost-effectively.

"This is precisely what the Acopian Center was designed to do," explained Director of Development Mary Linkevich. "It brings together ornithologists and scientists from a variety of disciplines for information sharing, which in turn creates new and exciting advances in science."

The antenna is part of ICARUS, International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space. An ISS on board computer will be connected and switched on after the antenna goes into operation in February 2018. Then, communication testing begins, and by late spring 2018, the ICARUS operational phase will commence.

In addition to the monitoring of the migration of small animals around the globe, this observation system will also be able to investigate the spread of diseases and maybe forecast natural disasters.

"A dream-come-true for raptor migration science owes its origins, in part, to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary," states Director of Conservation Science and Interim President, Dr. Keith Bildstein.

"We have played a pivotal role in this great leap forward."