Audubon South Carolina and Dominion Energy recently announced the installation of two new Motus Wildlife Tracking Towers in the Midlands and Lowcountry.
The towers – which were installed at the Silver Bluff Audubon Center & Sanctuary in Aiken and the Audubon Center and Sanctuary at Francis Beidler Forest in Harleyville, thanks to a grant from the Dominion Energy’s Charitable Foundation – mark the latest additions to the rapidly growing Motus of South Carolina. network of towers.
“Migratory birds face threats at all stages of the annual cycle, and these threats are accelerating,” said Angelina Ricci Eisenhauer, Acting Executive Director of Audubon in South Carolina. “Motus data helps us better understand bird flyways, so we can do more to protect them, and the habitat they depend on, throughout their life cycle. “
Organizations like Audubon in South Carolina use Motus – which comes from the Latin word for “movement” – to track the migratory patterns of birds, insects and other animals. To facilitate this, researchers equip the species of interest with tiny radio frequency transmitters, called “nanotags,” which emit a specific radio frequency. For Audubon in South Carolina, that means discovering the most important wintering, breeding and migratory sites for birds across the state and along the Great Atlantic Flyway.
“Normally when we erect towers and deploy technology, it’s to provide safe and reliable power to our customers,” said Keller Kissam, president of electrical operations at Dominion Energy South Carolina. “What a privilege it is to erect the towers as part of a collaborative effort with the Audubon Society to monitor, appreciate and learn more about the unique migratory species that repeatedly return to and make South Carolina home. a natural wonder that she is from the mountains to the sea. “
These towers are the latest installations in a collaborative effort to build a comprehensive network of Motus towers across the state. Audubon in South Carolina, along with other partners including South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, US Fish and Wildlife Service, South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism, National Park Service, Dewees Island Conservancy, Charleston Audubon Society, Nemours Wildlife Foundation, schools, universities, and other nonprofits – are working to build a statewide network so we can get started to deploy nanotags on priority species and follow their migratory routes.
“We know that Audubon Wildlife Sanctuaries in South Carolina provide important habitat for many of our most vulnerable bird species,” said Jennifer McCarthy Tyrrell, Audubon South Carolina Engagement Manager , which helps lead these Motus efforts.
“Through Motus, we are discovering how connected and vital this habitat, and others like it, is for birds across the hemisphere. Dominion Energy’s contribution to the South Carolina Motus Tower System is a significant investment in research into migration, habitat conservation, and the future of our birds.
A 2019 study published in the journal Science found that North America has lost nearly three billion birds in the past decades. By bringing together a better understanding of the pathways birds take during migration, Audubon and partners can work to mitigate threats and conserve habitats and resources throughout a bird’s annual life cycle.
Data collected from South Carolina’s Motus Network also supports the National Audubon Society Migratory Bird Initiative, which uses tracking, banding and e-Bird data to update areas of importance for birds and biodiversity. in the Western Hemisphere, thereby improving understanding and conservation planning for species at risk migratory birds and the habitats they require.
Dominion Energy and its charitable foundation provided $ 1.5 million in grants to schools and nonprofits working to improve natural spaces or educate about the environment in 2020.