Photo Credit: Beau Liddell
Photo Credit: Beau Liddell

Trumpeter swans currently breed throughout most of the western Great Lakes region, including in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Manitoba, Ontario, and Ohio. However, beyond estimates of population size and trend and distribution, there is relatively little recent information about their ecology, hindering conservation decision-making. To address current information needs, we are marking a sample of Interior Population trumpeter swans with GPS-GSM transmitters. These transmitters record high-resolution, high frequency location and related data and transmit those data through cellular phone networks.


This project started in Minnesota, where the bulk of the Interior Population of trumpeter swans breeds. Initial funding was provided by the Minnesota Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) and focused on the following research objectives:

Additional funding sources and collaborations with additional project partners have allowed us to expand the scope of the project to include the following research objectives:

Results of this study will inform current and future Interior Population trumpeter swan conservation by providing basic information about migration, year-round movements, mortality risks, and use of agricultural and other landscapes. As part of this project, location data will be archived and made available to the public via a website that summarizes trumpeter swan movements and habitat use. Thus, the project will also offer the opportunity to actively engage and inform the general public about how their past investment in conservation made a positive difference to the region’s natural heritage today.

Key Concepts

Contact Information

David E. Andersen, U.S. Geological Survey, MN Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Minnesota: 612 626-1222,

John Fieberg, Associate Professor, Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota: 612 301-7132,

David Wolfson, PhD Student, University of Minnesota: 574 360-9723,