We evaluated variation in densities of Barrow's Goldeneyes (Bucephala islandica) during winter at 214 sites within oiled and unoiled study areas in Prince William Sound, Alaska in relation to physical habitat attributes, prey biomass, and history of habitat contamination by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. Using general linear model analyses, we found that goldeneye densities were positively associated with occurrence of a stream within 200 m, lack of exposure to wind and waves, and mixed (versus rocky) substrate. We speculate that these associations relate to habitat profitability via selection of beneficial attributes and avoidance of detrimental features. We also determined that biomass of blue mussels (Mytilus trossulus), the primary prey, was not related to Barrow's Goldeneye densities; we suggest that mussel standing stock exceeds predation demands in our study areas and, thus, does not dictate goldeneye distribution. After accounting for habitat effects, we detected no effect of history of oil contamination on Barrow's Goldeneye densities, suggesting that populations have recovered from the oil spill. Although other studies documented hydrocarbon exposure in Barrow's Goldeneyes through at least 1997, either the level of exposure did not affect populations via reductions in survival, or effects of oil exposure were offset by immigration.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Densities of Barrow's goldeneyes during winter in Prince William Sound, Alaska in relation to habitat, food, and history of oil contamination|
|Contributing office(s)||Alaska Science Center|
|Other Geospatial||Prince William Sound|