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Subject:Common loon movements now online!
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Date:Wed, 15 Sep 2010 13:19:01 -0500

Sent by Kevin Kenow, USGS, LaCrosse

Common loon movements now online....the 'loon migration studies' site was
developed by our media specialist Bob Kratt.  Bob will be updating the site
once or twice a week during fall migration.

Movements of five common loons that were radiomarked in Minnesota and
Wisconsin this summer, can now be followed online on the Upper Midwest
Environmental Sciences Center website Common Loon Migration page at
.  Ten common loons were equipped with satellite transmitters this past
July to provide information on movements over the next year. The marking of
common loons is part of an effort to study the migratory movements and
foraging patterns of sentinel fish-eating waterbirds while migrating
through the Great Lakes in association with a USGS study on avian botulism.
Botulism intoxication, which causes the paralysis and death of intoxicated
vertebrates, is caused by ingestion of neurotoxins produced by the
bacterium Clostridium botulinum.  Periodic outbreaks of type E botulism
have resulted in die-offs of fish and fish-eating birds in the Great Lakes
since at least the 1960s, but outbreaks have become more common and
widespread since 1999, particularly in Lakes Michigan and Erie.  The
satellite transmitter-marked loons, along with 68 other loons were also
equipped with geolocator tags.  These devices are programmed to record a
daily location estimate, temperature, and pressure data to provide
information on foraging depths.  An understanding of feeding patterns and
exposure routes of sentinel waterbird species historically at risk to
botulism die-offs, such as the common loon, is central to developing
ecological studies to assess pathways of botulism exposure through aquatic
food chains in the Great Lakes and identification of physical and
biological linkages that drive botulism outbreaks.

Bob Russell, USFWS
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