Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: California
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

California Project

Habitat selection in an Arctic Seabird: Implications for Climate Change

September 2015 - December 2019


Participating Agencies

  • USGS, Alaska Science Center

Climate change is projected to have its greatest impact in arctic regions where temperature increases are forecasted to cause rapid changes to ecosystems and the wildlife dependent on them. These changes range from phenological mismatches (i.e/, between the timing of emergence of invertebrate prey and the arrival and breeding of shorebird predators; Liebezeit et al. 2014) to altered habitats where warmer climates favor successional changes in plant communities. The Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla; hereafter "sandpiper") is an abundant, arctic shorebird whose breeding range extends across nearly all of the Nearctic. The sandpiper breeds in wet coastal tundra that is likely to be strongly affected by climate change. Recent evidence suggests a decline in population size of the Semipalmated Sandpiper (Andres et al. 2012), but the cause of this decline is unknown. Despite its abundance, little is known regarding nest site selection by breeding Semipalmated Sandpipers (Jehl 2006). In the face of global climate change, it is likely that the population of sandpipers will be affected by changing habitats. The goal of this research is to investigate current aspects of habitat selection by Semipalmated Sandpipers in order to predict how future changes will affect their habitats and population.