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5:34 PM  July 14, 2021

Tomsk biologists monitor cuckoos' migration using the ISS

© Предоставлено пресс-службой ТГУTomsk biologists monitor cuckoos' migration using the ISS

TOMSK, Jul 14 – RIA Tomsk. Scientists of Tomsk State University joined an international project to study bird migration; 15 cuckoos were under observation by biologists in Tomsk, they were equipped with special sensors that transmit information to the antenna mounted on the International Space Station (ISS), the university's press service said on Wednesday.

It is specified that TSU scientists entered a major international project ICARUS, initiated by Russia and Germany and aimed at monitoring the migration of animals on the planet. The realization of the project will allow to reveal more precisely the terms of life and places of bird death, ways of dangerous infections transfer and even use animals as live early warning systems in connection with climate changes, pandemics and natural disasters.

"TSU biologists are contributing to the project's objectives. The objects of their 2021 ICARUS research are two species of cuckoos – the Cuculus canorus (common сuckoo), widespread in Eurasia from Great Britain to Kamchatka, and the Cuculus optatus (oriental cuckoo), whose breeding range is in the forest zone from the Far East to Eastern Europe," the report said.

© Предоставлено пресс-службой ТГУ
The data will help test, for example, the hypothesis that birds from different Siberian regions fly to Africa in different ways.
Sensors, which "mark" the birds, the size of half a matchbox, weigh five grams, are equipped with a solar panel and a 15-centimeter wire antenna. Thanks to them, scientists can not only track objects online, i.e. "see" when they sleep, eat, and so on, but also assess the relationship of bird life to changes in environmental conditions. Tomsk biologists chipped 15 birds.

Now the "smart" sensors record all information into their memory, and when the birds cross the 55th parallel, the data will go to the antenna installed on the Russian module of the ISS. Then they will be transmitted to the ground station and become available to researchers. The results of the observations are published in the MoveBank open database. The Siberian cuckoos' tracks are expected to appear in the database by September.

"The information that scientists receive today thanks to ICARUS seems incredible. For example, everyone was struck by the data on the bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica). It turned out that during the flight from Alaska to New Zealand, its non-stop flight is 9-11 days ... The use of new technology can largely turn our ideas about the animal world and greatly expand them," TSU biologist Sergey Gashkov is quoted in the message.

© Предоставлено пресс-службой ТГУ
TSU biologists conducted bird capture at the test landfill together with colleagues from the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Karelian Research Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who are also participants of the ICARUS project.

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