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


Demography, Movement, and Population Dynamics of White Pelicans on the Great Salt Lake

July 2021 - December 2023


Participating Agencies

Despite recent apparent population rebounds, white pelicans are still considered a sensitive species across the Pacific flyway, including Utah. This work aims to continue GPS transmitter deployment on white pelicans and fill critical gaps in our understanding of white pelican movement and space-use, including connectivity between regional colonies, critical migratory routes, high-use breeding and foraging habitat, and airspace use within airport property. In the face of regional drought, climate uncertainty, and development severely affecting Great Salt Lake and other regionally imperiled habitats, filling these knowledge gaps will provide crucial information to managers and researchers, thus aiding conservation of white pelicans and other waterbird species. This project is a possible through partnerships between Utah State University, the University of Georgia, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and the Salt Lake City International Airport. The population dynamics model developed here will inform environmental scenario planning to inform ways to maintain the Gunnison Island pelican population, and analyses of pelican airspace use can inform management plans to lower airstrikes in the airport airspace.