As part of the AA2A (Artists Access to Art colleges) residency I will be working with the Fine Art department and the Music, Technology and Innovation Research Centre at De Montfort University between October 2017 – April 2018. The content of the artwork produced will be based on research from Glasgow University into why teenage gannets find particular colonies attractive, with a focus on colonies in Scotland, Wales and Germany.
I was fascinated with Dr. Jana WE Jeglinski’s research into the movements of immature gannets across colonies and I really wanted to illustrate and explain scientific research in a creative way. View artworks here.
Jana studies immature northern gannet and is keen to learn about the ecology and behaviour of young seabirds, including how they use space and why, and what threats are particularly relevant to them. Some threats can include: habitat loss, lack of food due to overfishing, invasive species, offshore wind farms and litter and fishing wire, which can become entangled in their feathers and around their necks and beaks, which means they aren’t able to feed themselves.
Once an adult bird has found a breeding site and a mate, they stick to it, even if they fail in a particular year. In contrast, young birds are much more flexible in their choice of breeding location and they don’t necessarily breed where they were born. This ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ decision about where to breed, can have an influence on the breeding success and mortality of the bird. If we can understand this behaviour better we can look to protect seabird populations.
To track the movements of these young birds, Jana and her team use solar-powered GPS mobile phone tags, which are taped to the tails of the birds (the tags fall off when the birds naturally moult their tails, after about 1-2 months). The tags collect GPS locations and send them to Jana in the form of a text message and this is how she gathers her data.
Jana’s is currently tagging young birds in Helgoland in Germany, Grassholm in Wales and the largest colony in the world at Bass Rock in Scotland, with approx. 150,000 Northern gannets.