Radiotelemetry studies: are we radio-handicapping northern bobwhites?
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): F. S. Guthery; J. J. Lusk
Publication Year: 2004

Cataloging Information

  • age classes
  • banding
  • Colinus
  • Colinus virginianus
  • Colinus virginianus
  • demographic consequences
  • Dendragapus obscurus
  • fire dependent species
  • game birds
  • habits and behavior
  • Lagopus lagopus
  • Meleagris gallopavo
  • mortality
  • northern bobwhite
  • Parus ater
  • Parus major
  • Phasianus colchicus
  • population density
  • radio-handicapping
  • statistical analysis
  • survival estimates
  • telemetry
  • telemetry
  • wildlife
  • wildlife habitat management
  • wildlife management
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 47036
Tall Timbers Record Number: 22899
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Journals-W
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Having become suspicious of telemetry-based survival rates reported for northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus), we surveyed the published record to determine whether reported survival rates were consistent with empirical expectations of production, for which there exists a vast database. If the production (juvenile/adult) required to stabilize a population at a reported or inferred annual survival rate was £7, we deemed the reported survival rate reasonable; otherwise, we deemed it not reasonable. We obtained 58 estimates of survival rates for unique points in space and time; 83% of these were not reasonable (apparently biased low). These results and supporting information strongly suggest (but do not necessarily prove) that radio packages (harness, transmitter, antenna) somehow handicap bobwhites. We recommend that researchers be extremely skeptical of telemetry data, plan telemetry studies such that independent data on population performance are available for comparison with telemetry estimates, and discuss the demographic implications of telemetry estimates. We also suggest that radiotelemetry might not always be appropriate for a given research question and that alternative methods be employed whenever possible. © The Wildlife Society, 2004. Abstract reproduced by permission.

Online Link(s):
Guthery, F. S., and J. J. Lusk. 2004. Radiotelemetry studies: are we radio-handicapping northern bobwhites? Wildlife Society Bulletin, v. 32, no. 1, p. 194-201.