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The use of nestbox cameras allows detailed observations of communally roosting wrens. Here I present a documentation of their activity patterns during four nights during November 2010 and February 2011. Despite the volume of fascinating data, additional information on age, sex and relatedness of individuals would be desirable in future studies. The data indicate that there is a cost to communal roosting and individuals sleep more restlessly as a result of ongoing, continuous disturbance. The most common activities resulting in nightly disturbances are preening, changes in position of individuals within the group and defecation at the edge of the nest. There is an indication that the type and frequency of activities vary with temperature, with less preening in colder nights and an increase in individual movements to get to the warm centre of the group. This can be seen during a frosty December night when movement activity and repositioning of individuals dominated compared to preening. The coldest of four nights when temperatures reached as low as - 10°C was the only one that had periods of calm and again perceptibly less preening activity. © DO-G, IfV, MPG 2014.

Bosch S.,Metterstrasse 16 | Lurz P.W.W.,Lurzengasse 3
Hystrix | Year: 2013

We present unique footage and an analysis of recorded data of a free-ranging red squirrel building its drey in February 2012 inside a nestbox fitted with a hidden camera. Drey construction occurred over a period of three days that was dominated by an initial phase of transporting material; this then shifted more and more to construction of the outer twigg-shell of the drey and to the processing of materials for the soft inner lining and core of the drey. Total construction time in terms of minutes of red squirrel presence logged was 3.6 hours. Construction occurred after a period of 4-5 days of dry weather and at temperatures that were well above 0° C. After the squirrel abandoned the drey, the dry material was explored and used by songbirds indicating the importance of accessible structures and dry construction material for other species. The video is available as supplemental material in the online version. © 2014 Associazione Teriologica Italiana.

Bosch S.,Metterstrasse 16 | Bosch S.,Karlsruhe Institute of Technology | Spiessl M.,Karlsruhe Institute of Technology | Muller M.,Karlsruhe Institute of Technology | And 2 more authors.
Hystrix | Year: 2015

Monitoring is a fundamental aspect of species conservation and research. Technological advances, especially with respect to camera trap technologies, have allowed glimpses into unknown aspects of species behaviour and have the potential to greatly assist species distribution monitoring. Here we present the findings of a pilot study combining existing biological monitoring techniques with mechatronics to advance monitoring technologies and develop a multi-purpose, species specific, automated monitoring system. We developed a Small Mammal Monitoring Unit (SMMU) that integrates automated video, and sound recording, carries out body weight measurements and takes hairs samples with a bait station in a portable perspex box. The unit has the potential for use with a range of small mammal species, but has been field-tested here on red squirrels, Sciurus vulgaris, in Germany, Scotland and Switzerland. We successfully collected hair-samples, body mass data as well as video and sound recordings. Preliminary data analyses also revealed behavioural information. Heavier individuals first gained access to the feeder in the morning and have longer feeding bouts. Our prototype demonstrated that the collaboration between mechatronics and biology offers novel, integrated monitoring techniques for a range of research application. The development of units for other mammal species is planned. Future developments will explore the possibilities for wireless data transmission, built-in collection of weather data and collection of images from inside the unit for the recognition of individuals. © 2015 Associazione Teriologica Italiana.

In chilly winter nights wrens start..cluster roosting" as a response to low temperatures in suitable locations. Up to 18 wrens used a wooden concrete nestbox for roosting, which was prepared with a monitoring camera. We can therefore report on what wrens are doing during 15 hours of a winter night. In the first frosty November night two birds visited the nestbox at sunset but only one wren stayed for the night. This paper reports on the behaviour of this single winter wren roosting in an old sparrow nest. When the two birds investigated the nestbox they communicated with series of quiet "ick-ick"-calls (sonogram is shown). There was no evidence of aggressive interspecific behaviour. When arriving at the roost the wrens were restless, entering and leaving the nestbox several times. They appeared to check the roosting site and to look for conspecifics. The remaining bird slept in a puffed up ball shape for optimal thermoregulation. Sleeping was disrupted several times at night for changing sleeping position, preening and at one time for defaecating. In the morning the bird left the nest box after stretching and preening, 42 minutes before sunrise. The observed behaviour is illustrated by more than 30 images and documents that monitoring cameras can give us new insights into the hidden life of little songbirds and other animals. © DO-G, IfV, MPG 2013.

The poisonous gas carbon monoxide (CO) is not only produced as a result of combustion processes but can also be inhaled during the operation of barbecues, the smoking of water pipes, or in wood pellet stores. Inhalation of carbon monoxide can lead to life-threatening or chronic poisoning. The present article provides information on the formation and effects of CO in domestic settings, and gives advice on how instances of poisoning can be avoided. © 2016 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

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