Wake Forest University biologist David Anderson normally does his field studies of seabirds in the wild without much company, but this time is different.
Through e-mail and a World Wide Web site, students in thousands of classrooms in the United States are following the work of Anderson and his research team at Wake Forest University as they track two species of albatross that nest on Tern Island in Hawaii. Tern is part of the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Supported by a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, Wake Forest's Albatross Project is expected not only to spark students' interest in science but shed light on such questions as how the availability of food affects the seabirds' reproduction and how their populations can be protected from declines attributed to longline fishing fleets plying Pacific waters for tuna and other fish.
The project began Jan. 22 when one of Anderson's biologists placed small radio transmitters on a dozen Laysan and black-footed albatrosses at their nesting grounds on Tern. Biologists remove the transmitters once the parents return to Tern from foraging trips at sea that can
span several hundred miles. The transmitters are then put on another group of birds so as many different albatrosses can be tracked as possible.So far, Anderson and his colleagues Patricia Fernandez and Paul Sievert have
logged the flight paths of 18 albatrosses and are currently monitoring the flights at sea of ano
Contact: Wayne Thompson
Wake Forest University