Inventory of lowland-breeding birds on the Alaska Peninsula

Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management
By: , and 

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Abstract

During summers of 2004-2007, we conducted the first systematic inventory of birds in the lowlands (areas {less than or equal to}100 m above sea level) of the Alaska Peninsula to determine their breeding distributions and habitat associations in this remote region. We used a stratified random survey design to allocate sample plots by elevation and land cover with a preference for wetland cover types used by shorebirds, a group of particular interest to land managers. We surveyed all birds by conducting 10-min counts at 792 points across 52, 5-km x 5-km sample plots distributed from south of the Naknek River (58.70°N,157.00°W) to north of Port Moller (56.00°N,160.52°W). We detected 95 bird species including 19 species of shorebirds and 34 species (36% of total) considered at the time to be of conservation concern for the land managers in the region. The most numerous shorebirds on point counts were dunlin Calidris alpina, short-billed dowitcher Limnodromus griseus, and Wilson's snipe Gallinago delicata. The breeding-season endemic marbled godwit Limosa fedoa beringiae was found at 20 plots within a 3,000 km2 area from north of Ugashik Bay to just north of Port Heiden and east to the headwaters of the Dog Salmon and Ugashik rivers. The most abundant passerines on point counts were American tree sparrow Spizelloides arborea, Lapland longspur Calcarius lapponicus, and savannah sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis. Sandhill crane Antigone canadensis, glaucous-winged gull Larus glaucescens, and greater scaup Athya marila were also relatively abundant. We categorized habitat associations for 30 common species and found that lowland herbaceous vegetation supported wetland-focused species including sandhill crane, marbled godwit, short-billed dowitcher, and dunlin whereas dwarf-shrub ericaceous vegetation supported tundra-associated species such as willow ptarmigan Lagopus lagopus, rock sandpiper Calidris ptilocnemis, and American pipit Anthus rubescens. Tall shrub vegetation was important to several species of warblers and sparrows, as well as one species of shorebird (greater yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca). We found that point counts augmented with incidental observations provided an almost complete inventory of lowland-breeding species on the study area. These data form a baseline to monitor any future changes in bird distribution and abundance on the Alaska Peninsula.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Inventory of lowland-breeding birds on the Alaska Peninsula
Series title Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management
DOI 10.3996/082017-JFWM-070
Edition Online First
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center Biology WTEB
Country United States
State Alaska
Other Geospatial Alaska Peninsula