University of Iceland Researcher Studies Chick Development, Food Resources

plover chick in iceland

Postdoctoral researcher, Camilo Carneiro, at University of Iceland has spent this summer on a research project studying the development of several Icelandic bird species with regard to food resources.

The project has monitored some 110 nests, including whimbrel and plover. Laying dates and hatching success were recorded as part of University of Iceland’s ongoing monitoring of these species.

Because eggs change in density during the embryonic development, researchers are able to estimate the day of hatching with a high degree of accuracy. Once the chicks hatched, the parents were marked and measured with coloured rings.

Chicks were monitored and measured every 3 days. However, researchers have to wait until the chicks develop before also tagging them with rings, as their legs must be long enough to not interfere with their mobility.

Stool samples were also collected from the hatchlings to monitor their diet to better understand the relationship between food resources and chick development.

A particular interest in the study was the role of crowberries in hatchling diets. The berries were measured every 3 days, and estimates for the total fruit biomass available to the developing chicks were calculated.

In addition to traditional monitoring techniques, the study also employed GPS tagging to monitor their migrations patterns.

As can be seen in the above Twitter thread, once the hatchlings become independent (which generally takes around 4 weeks), they migrate non-stop to North Africa. Notably, the juveniles tend to stick together during migration.

Camilo’s research is supported by Rannís, the Icelandic Centre for Research.