Alaska Science Center

The role of gulls in Alaska in the dissemination of antimicrobial resistant E. coli

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria pose challenges to human healthcare globally; however, limited information is available regarding the prevalence and spread of such bacteria in the environment by wildlife. The aim of this project was to compare the prevalence of antibiotic resistant bacteria in migratory birds at urban and remote locations in Alaska.


The role of gulls in Alaska in the dissemination of antimicrobial resistant E. coli project is conducted by two staff members of the Alaska Science Center (ASC) and was initiated after the finding of high bacterial levels in the Kenai River starting in 2014 by the State of Alaska. Current research objectives by the ASC include: (1) assessing maintenance, transmission and dispersal of antibiotic resistant E. coli in gulls of Alaska, (2) quantifying prevalence of antibiotic resistant bacteria in wildlife and environmental sources across Alaska, and (3) determine migratory routes of large gull species that breeding in Alaska and are potential reservoir and dispersal agents of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Title Type
Acquisition and dissemination of cephalosporin-resistant E. coli in migratory birds sampled at an Alaska landfill as inferred through genomic analysisPublication
Sampling, Antimicrobial Resistance Testing, and Genomic Typing of Carbapenemase Producing E. coli in Gulls (Larus spp.) in Alaska, 2016Data
Sampling, antimicrobial resistance testing, and genomic typing of E. coli in gulls (Larus spp.) on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, 2016Data
Increased prevalence of antibiotic-resistant E. coli in gulls sampled in southcentral Alaska is associated with urban environmentsPublication
Sampling and Resistance and Genomic Typing of Cephalosporin-resistant E. coli in Gulls (Larus spp.) and Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in Southcentral Alaska, 2016Data
Antibiotic-resistant Escherichia coli in migratory birds inhabiting remote AlaskaPublication
USGS: Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria in Migratory BirdsProject Website


Ahlstrom, Christina , 907-786-7174
Ramey, Andrew M., 907-786-7174

Status: onGoing
Start Year: 2015
End Year: 2020

Project Sites

Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation

City of Soldotna
Middleton Island
Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge

USGS Mission Area and Program
EcosystemsWildlife Program
Environmental Health → Contaminant Biology

Major Initiatives
USGS - Wildlife Disease Program

Biological Classification > Animals/Vertebrates > Birds