Emerging Issue Summary
SPECIES OF INTEREST – MIGRATORY BIRDS
Overview and Management Relevance:
The seasonal distribution and abundance of migratory birds using Alaska’s Arctic habitats is dependent on the amount of high quality, intact and undisturbed habitat for breeding, rearing and molting. With climate change and the expansion of industrial activity on the North Slope, we can expect changes in the availability and distribution of seasonal habitats used by migratory bird populations. Changes in habitat availability and use may result in changes in population dynamics parameters including initial productivity and causes and rates of mortality for both juvenile and adult birds. For example, development of the area near Teshekpuk Lake will require an understanding of molting goose responses to industrial activities, including overflights and the construction of infrastructure. The time required to establish meaningful pre-development information should not be underestimated. In many cases, data will have to be collected for ten years or more to acquire a reasonable understanding of natural variation in seasonal bird habitat use, productivity, and population trends. Populations may already be impacted by climate change, but we cannot yet discern these impacts.
Understanding population status and trends is also critical in determining if mitigation efforts are effective, and to identify the level of risk that a population can tolerate and be sustainable. Understanding natural variation in population status is also necessary for determining what levels of change in populations can be detected using standard accepted methods for monitoring population status and trends. Although habitat use is understood on a coarse level for many species, further research is needed to understand the use of estuarine areas by species such as long tailed ducks, red phalaropes, red-throated loons, and others. Finally, birds that use the North Slope in summer may be impacted by anthropogenic stressors in transit to/from and within their winter habitats. Therefore, it is also important to understand the threats to birds across their entire migration routes, including storms, contaminants, loss of habitat, and predators.
In addition to these broad concerns, the NSSI Senior Staff Committee provided the STAP with specific questions relevant to migratory birds. STAP responses to these individual questions follow below.
Click here to download the Migratory Birds Emerging Issue Summary in PDF format