Surf Scoter male CWE logo
Surf Scoter Population Structure and Migration Habitat
Research on Sea Ducks
Aerial surveys suggest that numbers of breeding surf scoters in interior Alaska, the Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories have steadily declined since 1978. The true extent of these declines and the population segments to which they apply are unknown because of a lack of information on the timing of movements and affiliations between wintering, breeding and molting areas. Further, little is known about surf scoter winter ecology (including critical habitats used) or spring staging ecology (including the importance of herring spawn sites). range map of SUSC in N. America
To address these concerns, the Centre for Wildlife Ecology, along with several research groups, has been part of a coordinated effort to better understand the winter use patterns, movements and habitat use during migration and breeding distribution of scoters in the Pacific Flyway using satellite telemetry.
duck on operating table
Habitat conditions during spring migration can affect nutrient reserve levels and subsequent productivity, and changes in migration habitats have been implicated as important factors affecting broad-scale and long-term population declines in some waterfowl. An important component of establishing such cross-seasonal effects is the determination of distributions and habitat requirements at critical stages over the annual cycle. We are using a combination of satellite telemetry, radio telemetry, and surveys to document spring distributions of Pacific Surf Scoters throughout southeast Alaska and the northern BC coast, with a focus on identifying important stopover areas and associated habitat attributes, particularly herring spawning sites.
CWE Researchers on this project:

Dan Esler
Sean Boyd
Erika Lok
Kathy Brodhead

Research Partners:

John Takekawa (USGS)
Susan Wainwright-De La Cruz (USGS)
Matt Wilson (USGS)

David Ward (USGS)
Dave Nyeswander (WDFW)
Joe Evenson (WDFW)
Eric Anderson (Univ. Wyoming)
Kris Rothley (SFU, REM)

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