people putting up motus radio tower
Image by S. Beilke

Initiative Leader: Sarah Kendrick, Missouri Department of Conservation

The Telemetry Working Group of the Midwest Migration Network seeks to conduct and facilitate research on migratory animals in order to inform their conservation and management.  The working group consists of members from state and federal agencies, AZA zoos, local and regional NGOs, and academic institutions. 

Together these diverse entities worked to identify three priority research areas that can be addressed through the use of telemetry techniques:

  1. Airspace conservation
  2. Stopover behavior and ecology
  3. Phenology

To address these three research focuses we have a goal to expand the coverage of the Motus Wildlife Tracking System (Motus), and related research projects in the Midwest United States and Canada. 

Motus is a collaborative research network that uses coordinated automated radio telemetry to study movements and behavior of small animals. The collaboration currently maintains more than 400 automated telemetry stations across 19 countries. All data collected by the network is stored in a centralized and public database.  Currently, the Midwest region west of Michigan, including the western Great Lakes and most of the Mississippi Flyway, is virtually devoid of Motus stations.  Once installed at sites with power and internet access, Motus stations require little maintenance.  Therefore, we seek to develop research projects and facilitate collaboration under the three identified themes to expand the number of permanent stations, while addressing critical knowledge gaps.  Permanent stations left in place after projects will grow the regional network, further expanding research opportunities across the Midwest, as well as increasing coverage for both inter and intra-continental research and monitoring.  Ultimately, a Midwest Motus network will provide a relatively inexpensive means to track large numbers of migratory game and nongame species as they utilize the region, allowing researchers and mangers to better understand population limitation and identify conservation priorities.