Wednesday, March 21, 2007

British scientists use feathers for bird-flu clues

At Durham University, researchers measured strontium isotope levels to pinpoint birds' previous migratory stops. The metal accumulates in feathers and provides more precise data about location than radio or satellite tags. The scientists studied sedge warblers, and their research appeared in the Royal Society of Chemistry's Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry.

Dr. Laura Font said:
"By determining migration pathways, the arrival of potential vectors of diseases from infected areas can be anticipated.

"Knowledge of migratory routes also helps evaluate the likelihood that individual avian influenza outbreaks could be related to migratory bird movements rather than anthropogenic activities, such as poultry movements, which are believed to be the main vector of avian influenza in most outbreaks."
Sedge Warbler courtesy of BBC

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