This project proposes to provide a framework in which to better understand the ecology, including habitat requirements, of northern Alaska's avian species. The overall goal of this project is to research the distribution, abundance and life history of avian species of concern in northern Alaska.
Task 1: Initial work will focus on Smith's Longspurs in the Arctic Refuge with the goal of expanding to other species and breeding areas in northern Alaska.
Preliminary objectives include:
- Refine methods to measure abundance and distribution of Smith's Longspurs.
- Develop habitat-based models to predict the abundance and distribution of Smith's Longspurs.
- Collect life history information to better understand breeding parameters such as nesting chronology, nest success/survival, habitat preferences and nest site requirements.
Further research is needed to enhance understanding of the factors determining spatial and temporal use of coastal habitats within the Arctic Refuge. Information about how, why, when and where shorebirds are using these habitats will allow managers to address protection for shorebirds and other coastal resources, and will direct mitigation efforts in response to climate change and direct anthropogenic stressors. This study will fund a PhD student through UAF to: a) assess abundance, distribution, and species composition of shorebirds staging in coastal areas prior to fall migration, b-c) quantify movement patterns (both within the staging period and relative to breeding location) and residency times of pre-migratory shorebirds at staging sites, and d) examine physical characteristics and quantify forage for comparisons among staging areas on the coast.
[Note, Task 2 will be conducted pending task 1 results and determination of available funding by additional sources]