Arctic Shorebird Research and Conservation

On the North Slope of Alaska, at Prudhoe Bay and Ikpikpuk River, and in northern Chukotka at Chaun River Delta and Belyaka Spit, we are engaged in a project to assess adult survivorship of key shorebird species including the Semipalmated Sandpiper and Dunlin, as part of an Arctic-wide project to better understand population trends and migratory pathways of shorebirds species of conservation concern.

Male dunlin on the oilfields at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Photo by Zak Pohlen.

Male dunlin on the oilfields at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Photo by Zak Pohlen.

In 2014, we recovered about 20 geolocators from dunlin released at our Russian field camps during the prior two years. These geolocators, which establish a bird’s position based on light and time, now give us a much more detailed view of how these birds travel to their wintering grounds where we are concerned about habitat modification and hunting pressure.

Migratory pathway of a dunlin tagged with a geolocator at the Chaun Delta, Chukotka.

Migratory pathway of a dunlin tagged with a geolocator at Belyaka Spit, Chukotka that was recovered two years after its initial release.

Our work with dunlin is also informing our conservation planning for spoon-billed sandpipers which are now one of the world’s most critically endangered bird species.

Spoon-billed sandpiper  at Belyaka Spit.

Spoon-billed sandpiper at Belyaka Spit

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