weblog 2008

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5 July 2008 19:10
An important aspect of the research we do here in Ny Ålesund is birdhealth. During the last few years, many animal diseases have been the focus of attention in Europe (and elsewhere) and when considering birds, avian influenza comes to mind. Not only is it important to know how, for example, the barnacle geese population is thriving, it is also import to know if it is possible for them, or other bird species, to carry the virus of avian influenza with them and the occurence of this virus in arctic populations.
Maarten using the noose to catch a male Succes! Equipment needed for the tests
To be able to do the tests and obtain information from the geese, we must catch them. This can be a stressfull situation for the animals, and in order to reduce the stress to a minimum, the geese are captured with a noose. Maarten has become a pro using the noose so on our trip to Prins Heinrich island, the first goose is caught within minutes so the testing could begin right away.
Taking blood samples Weighing the geese Kathryn in her lab
We take fecal samples to see if there are any intestinal parasites, cloacal and throat swabs for testing for the occurence of avian influenza and blood samples to see how active the immune system is at the moment. We also measure and weigh the geese to be able to get an overall view of their health. We need a lot of equipment to do all this in the field and we "set up shop" everytime we are on the island. After returning with the samples, it is important to start the work in the laboratory as soon as possible.

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Ny-Ålesund symposium birdhealth mother goose

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