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A 6-year study of shorebird use of intertidal habitats of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta revealed this area to be one of the premiere sites for shorebirds throughout the Holarctic and worthy of designation as a Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. The study area, which covered 10% (300 km2) of the delta's intertidal flats, regularly hosted 17 species of shorebirds between late April and mid-October. The greatest use was during the postbreeding period (late June-October), when Dunlins (Calidris alpina), Western Sandpipers (C. mauri), and Rock Sandpipers (C. ptilocnemis), each with large local nesting populations, accounted for 95% of the shorebirds recorded. Peak counts during...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: The Condor
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Beak abnormalities are rare among adult birds and, typically, are not widespread in a given population, within a region, or across multiple species. A high concentration of beak deformities was recently documented in Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) and other resident avian species in Alaska. We describe a parallel condition in Northwestern Crows (Corvus caurinus) that signals the emergence of a multispecies epizootic. On the basis of 186 Northwestern Crows captured at six sites in Alaska during 2007 and 2008, we estimated the prevalence of beak deformities in adults to be 16.9 ± 5.3%, the highest rate of gross deformities ever recorded in a wild bird population. Prevalence varied among sites and was...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: The Auk
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We studied breeding dark-eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis), yellow-rumped warblers (Dendroica coronata), and spruce-nesting birds from 1997 to 1998 among forests with different levels of spruce (Picea spp.) mortality following an outbreak of spruce beetles (Dendroctonus rufipennis) in Alaska, USA. We identified species using live and beetle-killed spruce for nest sites and monitored nests to determine how the outbreak influenced avian habitat selection and reproduction. We tested predictions that 1) nesting success of ground-nesting juncos would increase with spruce mortality due to proliferation of understory vegetation available to conceal nests from predators, 2) nesting success of canopy-nesting warblers would decrease...
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A large number of beak deformities of unknown etiology have recently been reported in Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) and other resident avian species in Alaska. We investigated the potential association between diet and beak deformities. We analyzed carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) isotopes in whole blood of Black-capped Chickadees captured at three semiurban sites in south-central Alaska. For dietary analysis, we included natural foods (arthropods, seeds, and berries) and anthropogenic items commonly provided in bird feeders (sunflower seeds, peanut butter, and suet). Blood samples from individuals with beak deformities exhibited lower δ15N values and more variable δ13C values than birds with normal...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: The Auk
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Mountain ranges, deserts, ice fields and oceans generally act as barriers to the movement of land-dependent animals, often profoundly shaping migration routes. We used satellite telemetry to track the southward flights of bar-tailed godwits (Limosa lapponica baueri), shorebirds whose breeding and non-breeding areas are separated by the vast central Pacific Ocean. Seven females with surgically implanted transmitters flew non-stop 8117-11680km (10153??1043 s.d.) directly across the Pacific Ocean; two males with external transmitters flew non-stop along the same corridor for 7008-7390km. Flight duration ranged from 6.0 to 9.4 days (7.8??1.3 s.d.) for birds with implants and 5.0 to 6.6 days for birds with externally...
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The Dunlin (Calidris alpina) is a polytypic shorebird with complex patterns of distribution and migration throughout its holarctic range. We analyzed mark-re sighting data obtained between 1977 and 2010 from birds captured at two major staging areas in western Alaska to test the hypothesis that the migration patterns of Alaskan populations are a mixture of parallel and chain, similar to those of Dunlin populations in the western Palearctic. Birds marked on the Yukon—Kuskokwim Delta were found wintering in both Asia and North America, which documented the unexpected mixing of C. a. arcticola from northern Alaska and C. a. pacifica from western Alaska and contradicted our initial prediction of parallel migration pathways...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: The Condor
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BackgroundAvian keratin disorder (AKD) is an epizootic of debilitating beak deformities, first documented in black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) in Alaska during the late 1990s. Similar deformities have now been recorded in dozens of species of birds across multiple continents. Despite this, the etiology of AKD has remained elusive, making it difficult to assess the impacts of this disease on wild populations. We previously identified an association between infection with a novel picornavirus, Poecivirus, and AKD in a small cohort of black-capped chickadees.MethodsTo test if the association between Poecivirus and AKD holds in a larger study population, we used targeted PCR followed by Sanger sequencing...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Virology Journal
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We provide recommendations on the best practices for mist netting for the purposes of monitoring population parameters such as abundance and demography. Studies should be carefully thought out before nets are set up, to ensure that sampling design and estimated sample size will allow study objectives to be met. Station location, number of nets, type of nets, net placement, and schedule of operation should be determined by the goals of the particular project, and we provide guidelines for typical mist-net studies. In the absence of study-specific requirements for novel protocols, commonly used protocols should be used to enable comparison of results among studies. Regardless of the equipment, net layout, or netting...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Studies in Avian Biology
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The Alaska Science Center of the U.S. Geological Survey conducted an inventory of birds in montane areas of the four northern parks in the Arctic Network of National Parks, Alaska. This effort represents the first comprehensive assessment of breeding range and habitat associations for the majority of avian species in the Arctic Network. Ultimately, these data provide a framework upon which to design future monitoring programs.A stratified random sampling design was used to select sample plots (n = 73 plots) that were allocated in proportion to the availability of ecological subsections. Point counts (n = 1,652) were conducted to quantify abundance, distribution, and habitat associations of birds. Field work occurred...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation
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The demand for information on birds in Alaska has surged within the past few years, primarily because of the need to adequately assess the impacts of a wide range of planned developments. The accompanying increase in studies of avian populations has resulted in a growing need for a comprehensive bibliography of Alaska ornithology. An initial effort by Bartonek and Lensink (1978) provided a list of published and unpublished references on marine birds, but this list was only marginally useful because it lacked adequate indexing and annotation of references cited. Their bibliography, however, plus those of Cade (1953) and Gabrielson and Lincoln (1959), provided the basis and primary reference sources for our work.In...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: FWS/OBS
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We recently documented an epizootic of beak deformities in more than 2,000 Blackcapped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) and other wild bird species in North America. This emerging avian disease, which has been termed avian keratin disorder, results in gross overgrowth of the rhamphotheca, the outer, keratinized layer of the beak. To test the hypothesis that the beak deformities characteristic of this disorder are associated with accelerated keratin production, we measured rates of beak growth and wear in affected Black-capped Chickadees (n=16) and a control sample of unaffected chickadees (n=14) collected from south-central (61°09'-61°38'N, 149°11' -149°48'W) and interior Alaska (64°51' -64°53'N, 147°49' -147°59'W)....
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Results from an intensive survey in 1989 of one of the two known breeding localities of Bristle-thighed Curlews Numenius tahitiensis are reported. During the pre-nesting period birds confined most of their activity to two vegetation communities: shrub meadow tundra and low shrub/tussock tundra. During nesting more than half the Curlews seen were observed on shrub meadow tundra, whilst during brood rearing, use of low shrub/tussock tundra continued to decline in importance as birds attending young increased their use of sedge wet meadows. Despite extensive searches no nests were located; however, observations of broods indicated that nest initiation began around 25 May and that hatching occurred during the last week...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Wader Study Group Bulletin
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Highly visible auxiliary markers, such as neck collars, nasal saddles, patagial tags, and leg streamers, are used regularly and effectively with banding in studying migration and distribution of large birds (e.g. waterfowl, birds of prey, wading birds). Simply stated, a large bird can accommodate a marker that is large enough to be seen readily by an observer but still small enough not to alter behavior or impair flight (see Marion and Shamis 1977 for review). Such is not true with smaller birds, and consequently information on their migration routes and distribution is usually poorer than for larger birds. The use of colored leg bands increases the frequency of detection of small birds that have been banded; however,...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: North American Bird Bander
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Many of the Neotropical migrant bird species that breed throughout the Canadian boreal region are not found in the Alaskan boreal region, separated by the northwestern cordilleran mountains, despite the presence of climatically suitable habitat. We asked whether biological or climatic factors constrain certain species from crossing this geographic barrier. Analyzing a comprehensive dataset for 80 boreal passerine species, we used phylogenetic logistic regression to evaluate the relative importance of physical, migratory and competition metrics versus current and paleoclimatic suitability factors. Controlling for current climatic suitability within boreal Alaska, we found that species with the greatest climatic suitability...
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We recently documented an epizootic of beak deformities in more than 2,000 Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) and other wild bird species in North America. This emerging avian disease, which has been termed avian keratin disorder, results in gross overgrowth of the rhamphotheca, the outer, keratinized layer of the beak. To test the hypothesis that the beak deformities characteristic of this disorder are associated with accelerated keratin production, we measured rates of beak growth and wear in affected Black-capped Chickadees (n=16) and a control sample of unaffected chickadees (n=14) collected from south-central (61°09′–61°38′N, 149°11′–149°48′W) and interior Alaska (64°51′–64°53′N, 147°49′–147°59′W)....
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Between 2004 and 2008, biologists conducted an inventory of breeding birds during May–June primarily in montane areas (>100 m above sea level) in Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve (Aniakchak NMP), Katmai National Park and Preserve (Katmai NPP), and Lake Clark National Park and Preserve (Lake Clark NPP) in southwestern Alaska. Observers conducted 1,021 point counts along 169 transects within 63 10-km × 10-km plots that were randomly selected and stratified by ecological subsection. We created hierarchical N-mixture models to estimate detection probability and abundance for 15 species, including 12 passerines, 2 galliforms, and 1 shorebird. We first modeled detection probability relative to observer, date within...
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We measured serum chemistries in wild Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) from Alaska to test for potential differences associated with beak deformities characteristic of avian keratin disorder. Lower uric acid in affected birds was the only difference detected between groups, although sample sizes were small. This difference could be associated with fasting or malnutrition in birds with beak deformities, but it is challenging to interpret its biologic significance without reference values. Black-capped Chickadees had high levels of aspartate aminotransferase, lactate dehydrogenase, and creatine kinase relative to reference values for companion birds. However, all serum chemistry parameters from our study...
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Migrant Whimbrels (Numenius phaeopus) and Bristle-thighed Curlews (N. tahitiensis) were recorded during five summers along coastal tundra of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska. From June to September, 1975-1979, 358 flocks totalling 1,265 curlews were observed; an additional 54 flocks were identified by vocalization alone. Among the 359 flocks identified to species, 52% were of Whimbrels, 47% were of Bristle-thighed Curlews, and 1% were of both species. Flocks as large as 48 Whimbrels and 33 Bristle-thighed Curlews were recorded, but 87% of the flocks contained five or fewer birds. During 2 years with early springs a few Whimbrels and Bristle-thighed Curlews were recorded on the delta in early June; these may have...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: The Condor
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Understanding how individuals use key resources is critical for effective conservation of a population. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (YKD) in western Alaska is the most important postbreeding staging area for shorebirds in the subarctic North Pacific, yet little is known about movements of shorebirds there during the postbreeding period. To address this information gap, we studied residency times and patterns of movement of 17 adult and 17 juvenile radio-marked Dunlin (Calidris alpina) on the YKD between early August and early October 2005. Throughout this postbreeding period, during which Dunlin were molting, most birds were relocated within a 130 km radius of their capture site on the YKD, but three birds were relocated...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Arctic
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Juvenile proportion data in shorebirds are being used with increasing frequency to estimate recruitment and even breeding success. Although this area of investigation holds great promise, flaws in current study designs preclude great confidence in the broad-scale inferences being drawn. We present data from our own investigations on juvenile proportions in Bar-tailed Godwits Limosa lapponica in Alaska to illustrate the significance of some of these problems. We then explore issues of study design, specifically bias, precision, untested assumptions and the use of correlations for interpreting juvenile proportion data. The issue of bias is particularly important, because inferences about shorebird productivity are...


map background search result map search result map Evidence of accelerated beak growth associated with avian keratin disorder in black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) Intercontinental migratory connectivity and population structuring of Dunlins from western Alaska Stable isotopes identify dietary changes associated with beak deformities in Black-Capped Chickadees (<i>Poecile atricapillus</i>) Beak deformities in Northwestern Crows: Evidence of a multispecies epizootic Intercontinental migratory connectivity and population structuring of Dunlins from western Alaska Beak deformities in Northwestern Crows: Evidence of a multispecies epizootic Stable isotopes identify dietary changes associated with beak deformities in Black-Capped Chickadees (<i>Poecile atricapillus</i>) Evidence of accelerated beak growth associated with avian keratin disorder in black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus)