Shorebird Research Team Prepares for Arctic Expedition

In June, a team of Manomet scientists will return to the Arctic to research and band shorebirds on their breeding grounds.

 

This expedition will be conducted as part of the Arctic Shorebird Demographics Network (ASDN), an effort coordinated by Manomet, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Kansas State University to help determine factors limiting shorebird populations.

 

The demographic network was co-founded by Shorebird Science Division Director Stephen Brown and is organized by Manomet staff. It features 17 organizations working at 16 sites across 3,000 miles of Arctic tundra in Alaska, Canada, and Russia.

 

Manomet scientists will be on the ground at two different sites in the Arctic this year.

 

One team will spend two weeks researching and banding Semipalmated Sandpipers on Coats Island - a remote, uninhabited island at the northern end of Canada's Hudson Bay.

“Recent aerial surveys by New Jersey Audubon and Canadian Wildlife Service biologists indicate that the number of Semipalmated Sandpipers wintering on the northern coast of South America has dropped 80 percent in the past two decades,” said Manomet Arctic field team member and Conservation Specialist Brad Winn. “We will spend two weeks on Coats Island banding birds to investigate the connectivity of known wintering sites with Canadian breeding sites.”

 

To prepare for this year’s expedition, Manomet scientists are coordinating closely with the Canadian Wildlife Service.

 

A second team of Manomet researchers will head to Alaska’s Canning River Delta for the fourth year of research at that site. They will be searching for previously banded birds to determine annual survival rates and monitoring nesting success for breeding shorebirds.

 

“Some shorebirds can travel up to 11,000 miles from wintering grounds to their Arctic breeding grounds, often returning to the same nesting territories each year,” Winn said. “This strong nest site fidelity makes the Arctic the best place to study many of these birds.”  

 

 “Through the ASDN, we coordinate with partner organizations to measure demographic parameters like nesting success and adult survival and productivity,” Brown said. “This helps us to better understand what factors, at which point in the birds’ life cycles, may be limiting their populations.”  

 

The Arctic research team updates a blog called “Shorebird Science in the Field” where they share their experiences and spectacular wildlife photos. The blog can be accessed at www.shorebirdscience.org.

 

Brown and Winn will also be tweeting updates from the field. You can follow them on Twitter @SBrownArctic and @BradfordWinn.

 

- Haley Jordan