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Tinytags monitor properties of sociable weavers’ nests

Robust Tinytag data loggers are monitoring temperature as part of research into sociable weavers’ nests in southern Africa.

Data loggers with accompanying probes monitor the large communal nests to help quantify their thermoregulatory properties.

Tinytag temperature loggers monitor thermal properties of sociable weavers' nests

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 colonies.

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

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