Alaska Science Center

Reproductive Demographics: Use of Marine Habitats and Exposure to Contaminants of Red-throated Loons Breeding in Alaska

A study to gather baseline information on loon species that breeed in Alaska, their migratory routes, exposure to contaminants on wintering areas, and foraging habits.


We are examining the use of coastal marine habitats by Red-throated Loons with three main objectives. Our first objective is to examine diets, energetics, and chick survival during the 6 weeks following hatch of young loons. We will concurrently conduct this work at 3 breeding areas - the Copper River Delta (CRD) and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (YKD), and the Seward Peninsula - to see if there are significant ecological differences between these marine systems (Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, Chukchi Sea). The second objective is to collect eggs and blood from loons and analyze these tissues for heavy metals and organochlorines. Whereas eggs will provide a perspective on contaminants from wintering and pre-breeding locations, blood from chicks will provide a breeding area perspective. Our final objective is to use satellite telemetry to delineate what specific coastal marine areas are used by Red-throated Loons. We will capture parental loons with mist nets and surgically implant transmitters, each of which will provide data for > 6 months. Contaminants and satellite telemetry data will come from the 3 above geographic areas as well as on Alaska's north slope.
Title Type
Tracking data for Red-throated Loons (Gavia stellata)Data
Model-based predictions of the effects of harvest mortality on population size and trend of Yellow-billed LoonsPublication


Schmutz, Joel A., 907-786-7186

Status: completed
Start Year: 2002
End Year: 2007

Project Sites

FWS - Alaska Region
USFS - Tongass National Forest

Copper River Delta
Seward Peninsula
Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge

USGS Mission Area and Program
EcosystemsWildlife Program
Land Resources → Science Support for DOI Bureaus

Major Initiatives
FWS - Quick Response Program
FWS - Science Support Program
USGS - Wetlands and Terrestrial Ecology

Biosphere > Ecological Dynamics > Species/Population Interactions