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Wildlife Conservation Society

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The Wildlife Conservation Society will assess the climate change vulnerability of bird species that regularly breed in substantial populations in Alaska using the NatureServe Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI) tool. Initial work will focus on breeding birds in Arctic Alaska including shorebirds, waterfowl and waterbird species (loons, gulls, terns, jaegers), and land bird species (passerines, raptors, ptarmigan).
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The Arctic Tern completes annual epic migrations from pole to pole covering at least 40,000 kmon their round-trip journeys. They breed throughout Arctic Alaska from boreal to tundra habitatsand have their highest nesting densities inland (Lensink 1984). Arctic Terns typically choose nestsites on open ground near water and often on small islands in ponds and lakes (Hatch 2002).Arctic terns consume a wide variety of fish and invertebrate prey, fish are particularly importantduring the breeding season for feeding young (Hatch 2002). This species spends their winters(austral summers) in offshore waters near Antarctica (Hatch 2002). Alaskan Arctic Coastal Plainpopulation estimates from 2011 range from 7-12,000 (Larned...
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The Red-necked Phalarope commonly breeds in both the Brooks Range foothills and ArcticCoastal Plain of Alaska. In Alaska, this species typically nests in wet tundra near water’s edge.It differs from the Red Phalarope in that it breeds further inland and at higher elevations (Rubegaet al. 2000). Like other phalaropes, this species depends on aquatic food sources for much of itsdiet (Rubega et al. 2000). Red-necked Phalaropes spend winter at sea in tropical waters in largenumbers off the west coast of South America (Rubega et al. 2000). Current North Americanpopulation estimate is 2.5 million with a declining trend (Morrison et al. 2006).
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The Pectoral Sandpiper is one of the most abundant breeding birds on the Arctic Coastal Plain ofAlaska. They typically have low nest site fidelity which is likely related to their promiscuousmating strategy, thus nest densities are highly variable from year to year at a given site (Holmesand Pitelka 1998). In Arctic Alaska, primary breeding habitat includes low-lying ponds in a mixof marshy to hummocky tundra and nests are typically placed in slightly raised or better drainedsites (Holmes and Pitelka 1998). Pectoral Sandpipers spend their winters primarily in southernSouth America (Holmes and Pitelka 1998). The current North American population estimate is500,000 and they are believed to be declining (Morrison et...
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The Gyrfalcon, the largest falcon, is an iconic bird of the circumpolar arctic and subarctic. Thisspecies nests primarily on precipitous cliff faces and typically utilizes nests built by other species(particularly Common Raven, Golden Eagle, and Rough-legged Hawk) (Booms et al. 2008).Gyrfalcon main prey includes bird species ranging in size from passerines to geese whileptarmigan are the preferred prey. Although not well documented, in winter this species movessouth throughout Canada and sometimes into the northern lower 48. Current population on theNorth Slope (tundrius subspecies) is estimated at 250 breeding pairs (USFWS 2000).
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