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As the Egg Turns: Monitoring Egg Attendance Behavior in Wild Birds Using Novel Data Logging Technology
PLoS ONE (2014)
  • Scott A Shaffer, San Jose State University
  • Corey A. Clatterbuck, San Jose State University
  • Emma C. Kelsey, San Jose State University
  • Alex D. Naiman, Stanford University
  • Lindsay C. Young, Pacific Rim Conservation
  • Eric A. VanderWerf, Pacific Rim Conservation
  • Pete Warzybok, Point Blue Conservation Science
  • Russell Bradley, Point Blue Conservation Science
  • Jaime Jahncke, Point Blue Conservation Science
  • Geoff C. Bower, Stanford University
Egg turning is unique to birds and critical for embryonic development in most avian species. Technology that can measure changes in egg orientation and temperature at fine temporal scales (1 Hz) was neither readily available nor small enough to fit into artificial eggs until recently. Here we show the utility of novel miniature data loggers equipped with 3-axis (i.e., triaxial) accelerometers, magnetometers, and a temperature thermistor to study egg turning behavior in free-ranging birds. Artificial eggs containing egg loggers were deployed in the nests of three seabird species for 1–7 days of continuous monitoring. These species (1) turned their eggs more frequently (up to 6.5 turns h−1) than previously reported for other species, but angular changes were often small (1–10° most common), (2) displayed similar mean turning rates (ca. 2 turns h−1) despite major differences in reproductive ecology, and (3) demonstrated distinct diurnal cycling in egg temperatures that varied between 1.4 and 2.4°C. These novel egg loggers revealed high-resolution, three-dimensional egg turning behavior heretofore never measured in wild birds. This new form of biotechnology has broad applicability for addressing fundamental questions in avian breeding ecology, life history, and development, and can be used as a tool to monitor birds that are sensitive to disturbance while breeding.
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This article originally appeared in PLoS ONE, volume 9, issue 6, 2014, and can be found online at the following link:

© 2014 Shaffer et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Citation Information
Scott A Shaffer, Corey A. Clatterbuck, Emma C. Kelsey, Alex D. Naiman, et al.. "As the Egg Turns: Monitoring Egg Attendance Behavior in Wild Birds Using Novel Data Logging Technology" PLoS ONE Vol. 9 Iss. 6 (2014) ISSN: 1932-6203
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons CC_BY International License.