Data loggers with accompanying probes monitor the large communal nests to help quantify their thermoregulatory properties.
Researchers at the Department of Animal and Plant
Sciences, University of Sheffield, are
using Tinytag data loggers to monitor the
temperature of the nests built by sociable weavers in
Benfontein Game Park a location near Kimberley, South Africa.
The aim of the monitoring is to quantify the physical
properties of the massive communal nests built by the
birds, as part of research into how the high levels of
sociality in this species has evolved and why they build such large
nests. The thermoregulatory properties provided by the nest are
likely to be an important benefit to the birds. Additionally, how
these benefits depend on which chamber they occupy has potential
implications for the social organisation of the birds within
The nests are monitored with three Tinytag Plus 2 TGP-4510
data loggers with accompanying 3m thermistor
probes. The loggers are positioned near the edge of
the nest to measure ambient temperature. The probes are
then inserted into the nest chambers at three different
positions: in a nest chamber near the edge of the communal
nest mass, in the centre and at an intermediate position. The
probes measure the temperature inside the nest chambers.
The recorded data is analysed in response to nest mass volume,
position of the nest chamber and attribute traits of the birds
occupying nest chambers, such as age and dominance rank. The
results are written up as scientific papers.
In a separate study, researchers also use the loggers in nests
of long-tailed tits to quantify how the physical thermoregulatory
properties depend on, for example, nest size.
René van Dijk is a Researcher Co-Investigator
at the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, and chose
the Tinytags for their ease of use. René comments,
"They are easy to place, while flexible through the
combination of using the logger and the probe. The loggers are also
robust against weather and fieldwork conditions. Long battery life
is great so that only the data need to be downloaded and the logger
set again for the next set of measurements, without having to
recharge all the time. The Tinytag Explorer
software used to set up the logger and download the data is
also extremely straightforward to use."
The photograph shows the positioning of the probes in the
communal nest of sociable weavers.
To find out more about René van Dijk's research visit http://revandijk2.wordpress.com