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 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
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