Lake Superior Reserve Launches New Partnership with UMD Natural Resources Research Institute to track bird migrations

October 11, 2018

The Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve is now home to a brand new receiver linked into the global MOTUS wildlife tracking system which collects data on animal migrations.

During the summer and early fall of 2018, Reserve staff worked with colleagues at the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) and university officials in Madison and Superior, to develop a legal agreement for the Reserve to permanently host a MOTUS array. Just last week, this array was installed on the top of the Lake Superior Estuarium by NRRI scientists.

Steve Kolbe of NRRI explained their interest in this partnership by describing how the Reserve is in “a strategic location where some of the highest concentrations of migratory birds occur on the continent during spring and fall migration” and the additional educational outreach opportunities “makes the National Estuarine Research Reserve a perfect site for our MOTUS receiver.”

According to the Reserve’s Monitoring Coordinator, Hannah Ramage, “Our receiver is in a prime location to track, not only birds on their annual migration route, but also the daily movements of Common Terns.  An endangered species in Wisconsin, Common Terns leave their nests on Interstate Island to fish the St. Louis River and Lake Superior. Being situated on Barkers Island between the river and the lake, our receiver can help provide new data on the timing and extent of their movements.”

In addition, the Reserve’s Manager, Dr. Erika Washburn shares that “MOTUS is installed and integrated into at least seven other National Estuarine Research Reserves around the nation, including sister programs in South Carolina, Mississippi, Texas, Florida, New Jersey and Maryland. This creates a great opportunity for the Lake Superior Reserve to collaborate nationally and track not only migration patterns for species that migrate along our shores, but for individual birds – which is really exciting!”

For more information about MOTUS, go to
For more information about UMD’s NRRI go to


Deanna Erickson

Reserve Director

(715) 399-4086