Show Details

Space Ornithology

February 10, 2009

Finding better ways to track migrating animals could help predict and slow the spread of disease.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Satellites for birds….I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Bird migration is one of the most mysterious behaviors in the animal world. Senior scientist James Smith of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center says traditionally, scientists who wanted to study bird migration were limited to catching them on their breeding and wintering grounds. That left the thousands of miles birds spend en route poorly understood. But Smith says in an era of emerging global infections, we need to understand migration.

JAMES SMITH (NASA GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER):
If we have animals that carry diseases, and that may happen more, we may see new diseases in North America that we haven’t seen before with potential warming and changes in the environment. You’d kind of like to know, well, where did they come from, and where are they going?

HIRSHON:
Smith says improved technology for tracking very small animals via radio and satellite is starting to make that possible. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.