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USGS Changing Arctic Ecosystems: Measuring and forecasting the response of wildlife populations to changes in ecosystem processes on the Arctic Coastal Plain (Detection of Changing Avian Populations)

A project to understand temporal changes in foraging habitats of geese to forecast the response of wildlife populations to changes in ecosystem processes on the Arctic Coastal Plain.

Principal Investigators:
Amundson, Courtney L.
Flint, Paul L.

Project Contacts:

FWS - Alaska Migratory Bird Management

Status: completed
Start Year: 2010
End Year: 2016

North Slope Borough

USGS Mission Area and Program:
EcosystemsWildlife Program

Major Initiatives:
USGS - Changing Arctic Ecosystems Initiative

Web Links:
Project Website:
Changing Arctic Ecosystems project site and fact sheet

Climate Indicators
Biosphere > Terrestrial Ecosystems > Alpine/Tundra


Large temperature changes have occurred in Alaska in recent decades. These changes are already affecting terrestrial vegetation types and wetlands. These physical processes of ecological change directly affect attributes of habitats that are vital to Department of the Interior (DOI) trust species such as migratory birds and large terrestrial mammals. These herbivores may be affected by significant changes in plant community structure that occur in response to physical changes and nutrient availability. Recent studies have examined long term aerial survey data sets and found evidence that some waterfowl populations in Alaska are shifting in terms of abundance and/or distribution. For > 25 years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Migratory Bird Management Office, has indexed waterfowl populations in arctic Alaska using a series of aerial surveys. While these data are summarized annually in terms of total population size, they have not been examined for evidence of shifts in population distributions or community structure. As part of the Changing Arctic Ecosystem Initiative, the USGS is collaborating with the USFWS to examine the long-term Arctic Coastal Plain (ACP) aerial survey data sets to detect and describe changes in abundance and distributions of waterfowl populations on the ACP. These results will be linked with habitat occupancy modeling to allow prediction of future bird distributions. These results will facilitate future study designs of aerial surveys by the USFWS and analytic techniques will provide a framework for analyses of future survey data.

Project metadata record

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