Pas de contenu pour le moment

Snowy owls are large birds living North of America and Eurasia, with white / spotted white feathers. They are migrant birds, but in an unpredictable way – they can winter as south as the American Midwest, as well as in the Artic circle.


A snowy owl ("Beatrix") with tag, in the arms of A. Robillard (Credits U. Laval)
A snowy owl (“Beatrix”) with tag, in the arms of A. Robillard (Credits U. Laval)

The snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus) is one of the major Arctic top predators, and a highly nomadic species. Contrary to other owls, it lives by day as well as night (it should be noted that nights are short or non-existent in summer close to Arctic, anyway). It is a large bird, spending the summers on a diet mostly composed of lemmings or other rodents. On winter, though, they have a broader diet, and different habitat uses have been noticed. For a long time, we haven’t known whether those were individual behaviors, with different individuals showing fidelity to the same wintering site or if they could change their wintering habitat from year to year.

To explore this question, The University of Laval (Québec, Canada) tracked 21 females by satellite telemetry using Argos PTTs between 2007 and 2016, to describe the behavior of wintering snowy owls breeding in eastern Canada and to examine factors affecting their wintering behavior. Complementary data, such as snow depth, small mammal abundance were also analyzed with the owls’ paths.


Snowy owls tracked by Argos satellite telemetry from 2007 to 2016 in eastern North America. Also depicted on the graph are the three capture sites: Bylot Island (star), Deception Bay (square) and Mary River (diamond). (Credits U. Laval)
Snowy owls tracked by Argos satellite telemetry from 2007 to 2016 in eastern North America. Also depicted on the graph are the three capture sites: Bylot Island (star), Deception Bay (square) and Mary River (diamond). (Credits U. Laval)

These 21 tracked owls allowed to record 42 complete wintering periods, 25 of which were spent predominantly inland (16 in the Arctic, 9 in temperate areas) and 17 in the marine environment (15 in the Arctic, 2 in temperate areas). Most individuals that were tracked for two consecutive years used the same wintering environment among inland or marine and also stayed at around the same latitude (16 out of 21), but not always the exact same area. This change could be linked with variation in food availability. Annual variations in sea ice dynamics may change the spatial distribution of seabirds and could explain the moderate site fidelity shown by snowy owls in the marine environment. There are evidences that lemming densities on Bylot Island affected some aspects of habitat use by wintering owls (no data elsewhere).

Wintering home range contours of the 21individual snowy owls tracked for at least one complete winter between 2007 and 2016. One to three individuals only are plotted in the same graph (different color for each individual) to facilitate visual assessment. (Credits U. Laval)
Wintering home range contours of the 21individual snowy owls tracked for at least one complete winter between 2007 and 2016. One to three individuals only are plotted in the same graph (different color for each individual) to facilitate visual assessment. (Credits U. Laval)

The snowy owls’ consistency in wintering environment and latitude may provide them with advantages in terms of experience while their mobility and flexibility on the precise site may help them to cope with changing environmental conditions.


Audrey Robillard, Gilles Gauthier, Jean-François Therrien and Joël Bêty, 2018: Wintering space use and site fidelity in a nomadic species, the snowy owl, Journal of avian biology, e01707, doi: 10.1111/jav.01707

Photo U. Laval, a snowy owl on Bylot Island.


Ecological studies and environmental monitoring at Bylot island Sirmilik National Park

Argos Users stories

Photo showing animal with attached Argos transmitter on 9 February 2018 (Krista Hupman, NIWA)

03.10.2018 Animal tracking applications Understanding the movement of pygmy blue whales in New Zealand waters

There is little known for cetacean species such as pygmy blue whales, but they are at the forefront of protection policies around the world. The distribution of those whales around New Zealand are studied using Argos PTTs and goniometer. There are two subspecies of blue whales recognized in the…

01.10.2018 Argos news & events European Users Conference on Argos Wildlife

The European User Conference on Argos Wildlife will be held in Toulouse, France, on November 21st & 22nd, 2018.   All Argos users, manufacturers or potential users are welcome to attend this two-day workshop. When: November 21st & 22nd, 2018 Where: Toulouse, France More info  …

01.10.2018 Animal tracking applications The missing link: pelagic prey field prediction for Southern Ocean marine predators

Southern Ocean predators tend to lead cryptic lives, which in many cases are spent mostly at sea. This makes their foraging behaviour inherently difficult to study. Furthermore, numerous species are threatened through direct human conflict (such as fisheries related mortality), climate driven change, or both. At the European User Conference…

27.09.2018 Animal tracking applications Using Argos for turtle dove management

Hervé Lormée, of the French Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage, will present his work Argos at the European User Conference on Argos Wildlife (EUCAW). The European Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur shows one of the most dramatic population decline among all farmland…
Sunfish tagged with an X-Tag at Eastern Taiwan. Credits Tuna and Billfish Tagging Project in Taiwan

25.09.2018 Animal tracking applications Finding sunfish’s pop-up Argos tag with Goniometer

The Tuna and Billfish Tagging Project in Taiwan uses Argos satellite telemetry pop-up tags to track pelagic species. A total of five tags were recently retrieved using Argos Goniometer, including three tags on amberjacks, one on a big-eye tuna and one on a sunfish. Two of them were found…
thresher shark

24.09.2018 Animal tracking applications COLSHARK program: first satellite tagging of thresher shark (Alopias pelagicus) in Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean

Armelle Jung’s presentation at the European User Conference on Argos Wildlife (EUCAW) will focus on the pelagic thresher shark (Alopias pelagicus). It is one of the largest and most abundant open ocean predators in the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP), and one of the most exploited shark in the sub-region. A.

24.09.2018 EUCAW Speakers New insights on porbeagle stock structure in the North East Atlantic from PSAT deployments

At the European User Conference on Argos Wildlife (EUCAW), Gérard Biais, Ifremer, reports on the porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus), a large pelagic shark found throughout the North Atlantic. The state of the stock remains unknown in the North East Atlantic. However, presuming that this stock might be at risk,…

24.09.2018 EUCAW Speakers Silver Eel migration behaviour in the Mediterranean Sea

Although Mediterranean ecosystems such as coastal lagoons are known to be productive habitats providing numerous silver eels in short generation time, migration routes used by silver eels in the Mediterranean Sea have been poorly studied. Using pop-up satellite during escapement from coastal waters, Elsa Amilhat, of the Université de Perpignan,…
White-tailed sea Eagle in flight with a fish in the claws

24.09.2018 EUCAW Speakers The utility of Argos satellite tagging in monitoring a long-lived raptor: White-tailed Sea Eagle reintroduction to Ireland

Allan Mee, of the Golden Eagle Trust, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, presents his work reintroducing white-tailed sea eagles, at the European User Conference for Argos Wildlife (EUCAW). As he explains, white-tailed Sea Eagle (WTSE) Haliaeetus albicilla became extinct in Ireland in…
Tropical tuna tagging Uruguay-P.Miller-2017

24.09.2018 EUCAW Speakers The experiences of the Atlantic Ocean Tropical Tuna Tagging Programme

The Atlantic Ocean Tropical Tuna Tagging Programme is a five year duration project funded by the EU (DG-DEVCO) and ICCAT signatory countries (CPCs). Its aim is to improve the management of the three main tropical tuna stocks (bigeye, skipjack and yellowfin) in the Atlantic using up-to-date population parameters, such as…
Arctic marine mammal

24.09.2018 Animal tracking applications Unveiling the life of Arctic marine mammals through the use of satellite telemetry

Some of the most intriguing questions about migrations and natural behavior of marine mammals are focused around Arctic seals and whales. Animals that are widely dispersed in inaccessible areas and that only in brief seasons can be observed in their natural surroundings. Naturally these species have also been targeted by…

24.09.2018 EUCAW Speakers The RSPB and Argos – an overview of using satellite telemetry in scientific research

At the European User Conference on Argos Wildlife (EUCAW), Nigel Butcher will discuss how the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has benefitted from the Argos tracking system. His work, although primarily focussed on species in the UK and UK Overseas Territory (UKOT’s), does…

24.09.2018 EUCAW Speakers Reporting on the work of Russian scientists in the Arctic using specialized Argos tags

Alexandre Salman, of ES-PAS, reports on the work of Russian scientists at the European User Conference on Argos Wildlife (EUCAW). As he explains, since Argos instruments fly onboard polar-orbiting satellites, therefore, in Arctic zones, satellite passes are more frequent and scientists are able to transmit a higher…
Loggerhead turtle equipped with a satellite tag. Source: Miquel Gomila/SOCIB

24.09.2018 Animal tracking applications Oceanographic Turtles: Integration of sea turtle tracking with ocean observing systems

At the European User Conference on Argos Wildlife (EUCAW), David March will present the “Oceanographic Turtles” project which aims to provide the scientific basis to support the development of risk mitigation techniques based on new ocean observing and forecasting systems and contribute to the conservation of marine turtles. Argos satellite…
atlantic bluefin tuna

24.09.2018 EUCAW Speakers Use of Argos data for fisheries management & conservation: ICCAT perspective

Francisco Alemany’s presentation at the European User’s Conference on Argos Wildlife (EUCAW) will focus on the ICCAT Atlantic Wide Research Programme for Bluefin Tuna (ICCAT GBYP) started with electronic tag activities on Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) in 2011, when the first few pop-up satellite tags were…
tagged elephant seal christophe guinet

24.09.2018 EUCAW Speakers When deep diving seals help us to observe rapidly changing of polar oceans

At the European User Conference on Argos Wildlife (EUCAW), Christophe Guinet’s presentation will focus on how polar seals are used to collect in-situ measurements of temperature, salinity, fluorescence and light along their paths during their dives and which complement and extend to deep depth satellite surface observations.
Sunfish tagged with an X-Tag at Eastern Taiwan. Credits Tuna and Billfish Tagging Project in Taiwan

19.09.2018 Animal tracking applications Sunfish, a giant mysterious animal in our oceans

Fisheries management is a touchy question all around the world. The many species exploited require quotas, seasonal or regional limitations on fishing in order to maintain stocks at renewable levels. Argos satellite telemetry enables better understanding of the behavior of underwater species, and thus makes it possible to decide on…

11.09.2018 Animal tracking applications Unlocking the mysteries of the Arctic fox

The Argos satellite telemetry system made it possible for a team of researchers led by Dominique Berteaux from the University of Québec in Rimouski to better understand the behavior of the mysterious Arctic fox in Canada’s Nunavut region, as revealed in a recent article in Le Monde.

10.09.2018 ANGELS nanosatellite The future of ARGOS satellite telemetry is Kinéis

For nearly 40 years, the international space agencies that manage the Argos system have been committed to technological advancements. Capitalizing on this long experience in state-of-the-art, innovative instrumentation, the French Space Agency, CNES, has invested in a new generation of Argos payloads, called Argos-4, that will…
A Lesser Kestrel in flight with an Argos PTT. (Credits Green Balkans)

21.08.2018 Birds tracking Lesser Kestrels back in Bulgaria

Endangered species can be locally so. The Lesser Kestrel, a small falcon, was all but extinct in Bulgaria. A project enabled to reintroduce the prey bird in this country, with satellite tagging and tracking of its migration, to understand the best way to protect it. The…
An Argos-tagged juvenile whale shark swims through the waters of Panaon Island, Southern Leyte (Credits LAMAVE).

31.07.2018 Animal tracking applications Whale sharks, big friendly giants of the ocean

Whale sharks are about the opposite of your archetypal shark. These gentle giants, the biggest fish in Earth’s oceans, are living on a steady diet of plankton (with the addition of small crustacean, fish and squids). There’s still a lot we don’t know about this wildlife marine species, though. Understanding…
Collared female with two cubs. (Credits A. Derocher)

24.07.2018 Animal tracking applications On the track of the polar bears

Polar bears live in a challenging environment for human beings, and getting close to them is not without dangers. Wildlife tracking using Argos PTTs has thus enabled us to know more about them. The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is heavily dependent on sea ice, since they feed on seals (ringed…

23.07.2018 Animal tracking applications Two tags on a shark: a world first

The french association APECS (Association for the Study and Conservation of Selachians) is a Brest association dedicated to the study and conservation of sharks and rays. The members of this association regularly use Argos tags to be able to follow the selected specimens to better understand their behavior. Last…

19.07.2018 Animal tracking applications News about the Rana turtle

Do you remember Rana? This is the turtle collected and treated for four years by the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco. After his release and the few adventures to find the camera that filmed his first 24h of freedom, Rana has already traveled more than 300km. The Caouanne turtle…
Eurasian woodcock (credit Joseba Felix Tobar-Arbulu)

09.07.2018 Animal tracking applications Scolopax rusticola without frontiers

The Eurasian woodcock, Scolopax rusticola, is a very special bird as it is crepuscular. During the day, it rests in places where there is not much light.  Thus, this species was not very well known before the first tracking – in 2006, as before that the lightest Argos PPT was…

03.07.2018 Animal tracking applications The adventure of the turtle named Rana and her camera

Around the 21st of June, as part of an action led by the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, Robert Calcagno, Damien Chevalier & Olivier Brunel released a sea turtle named Rana who had been receiving treatment for four years. To monitor its evolution an animal tracking system was…
An eel in the sea with a pop-up tag. Credits G. Simon, Perpignan University

27.06.2018 Animal tracking applications Eels’ travel in the Mediterranean tracked thanks to Argos & goniometer

Eels are still nowadays a very mysterious fish species. To better know their swimming behaviour when leaving the European coasts, accelerometers are used in conjunction with Argos pop-up tags to estimate speed variations during vertical migrations and infer energy expense of eels leaving Europe to reproduce in the Sargasso Sea.
éléphant de mer avec une balise Argos (photo C. McMahon, IMOS/U. Sydney)

11.06.2018 Animal tracking applications Elephant seals diving for science

The marine animals living in the open ocean, and especially in the Southern Ocean, are among the ones which knowledge benefitted the most from Argos wildlife tracking. We discovered a lot about Southern Elephant seals, among those – depths of dive, paths followed, etc., all things completely unknown previously and…
Arctic fox (Credits A. Sokolov)

29.05.2018 Animal tracking applications Siberian Arctic fox on the move

Nowadays Arctic wildlife is often endangered by climate changes and human activities, and they are not always very well known. The arctic fox is a small animal, white in Winter, living around the Arctic circle. In Siberia it has been little studied for now, but miniaturization progresses make it possible…
Loggerhead turtle equipped with a satellite tag. Source: Miquel Gomila/SOCIB

15.05.2018 Animal tracking applications Tweeting Mediterranean Loggerhead turtles as oceanographers

Loggerhead turtle around Balearic Islands are equipped with Argos satellite tracking tags. Their data are used as oceanographic data source, and they also can be followed in real-time on Twitter, as a mean of raising awareness on the threats to this wildlife species and the way of helping protecting them.