USGS - science for a changing world

Alaska Science Center

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Every year, the Arctic dramatically changes as the landscape transitions between winter and summer. Here, the changes in snow cover, vegetation greenness, and sea ice in 1982 are displayed in 10-day intervals from April to early October.  Satellite remote sensing products such as these provide a valuable archive from which to better understand how climate variability and climate change affect wildlife habitats worldwide. Quicktime is required for viewing this animation. In some browsers you may need to right mouse click and activate.

The Habitat Dynamics Project examines how short and long-term changes in the environment affect the distribution and survival of wildlife populations.  An overarching strategy of the Project is to develop new methods that integrate satellite telemetry, remote sensing, meteorology, and GIS technologies. Studies focus on Department of Interior priorities by emphasizing the growing need to understand how changes in climate or land use practices affect wildlife migrations, habitat availability, habitat quality, and population dynamics. Climate is an overarching force that shapes suitability of wildlife habitat resources. Understanding linkages between the physical and biological environment is critical for making informed management decisions in the face of accelerating climate change and expanding human activities.

Emphasis of the Habitat Dynamics Project is placed on the Arctic, where species synchronize their reproductive and migration cycles with the landscape’s pronounced seasonal changes. The Project uses a variety of environmental data sources derived primarily from satellite remote sensing, and a variety of wildlife data through collaborations with other principal investigators. Most studies fall under one of three general themes: 1) observed and future changes in Arctic sea ice and the implications to polar bears and walruses, 2) variations and trends in the timing of spring vegetation growth and the implications to herbivores such as caribou and geese, and 3) dynamics of daily wind conditions and the implications to bird migrations.

Recent Publications

Ross, M. V., R. T. Alisauskas, D. C. Douglas, and D. K. Kellett. 2017. Decadal declines in avian herbivore reproduction: density-dependent nutrition and phenological mismatch in the arctic. Ecology 98(7):1869-1883. doi:10.1002/ecy.1856 [Details] [Full Publication]

Durner, G. M., D. C. Douglas, S. E. Albeke, J. P. Whiteman, S. C. Amstrup, E. S. Richardson, R. R. Wilson, and M. Ben-David. 2017. Increased Arctic sea ice drift alters adult female polar bear movements and energetics. Global Change Biology 23(9):3460-3473. doi:10.1111/gcb.13746 [Details] [Full Publication]

Cox, C. J., R. S. Stone, D. C. Douglas, D. M. Stanitski, G. J. Divoky, G. S. Dutton, C. Sweeney, J. C. George, and D. U. Longenecker. 2017. Drivers and environmental responses to the changing annual snow cycle of northern Alaska. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-16-0201.1 [Details] [Full Publication]

Douglas, D. C. and T. C. Atwood. 2017. Uncertainties in forecasting the response of polar bears to global climate change. Pages 463-474 in Marine Mammal Welfare: Human Induced Change in the Marine Environment and its Impacts on Marine Mammal Welfare, A. Butterworth (ed.). Springer, Cham, Switzerland. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-46994-2 [Details] [Full Publication]

Rode, K. D., E. V. Regehr, D. C. Douglas, G. M. Durner, A. E. Derocher, G. W. Thiemann, and S. M. Budge. 2014. Variation in the response of an Arctic top predator experiencing habitat loss: feeding and reproductive ecology of two polar bear populations. Global Change Biology 20(1):76-88. doi:10.1111/gcb.12339 [Details] [Full Publication]

Gill, R. E., Jr., D. C. Douglas, C. M. Handel, T. L. Tibbitts, G. Hufford, and T. Piersma. 2014. Hemispheric-scale wind selection facilitates bar-tailed godwit circum-migration of the Pacific. Animal Behaviour 90:117-130. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2014.01.020 [Details] [Full Publication]


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Page Last Modified: March 06 2018 13:54:55.