Oil development has attracted populations of opportunistic predators including Arctic fox, ravens, and gulls, which feed on nesting birds. The predators use oil infrastructure, which ranges from drilling platforms to road culverts, to build their nests or dens. In this study researchers found one bird species, the Lapland longspur, lost significantly more nests in areas closer to oil development than farther away. Nests beyond 5 kilometers (3.11 miles) from oil development remained unaffected by predators.
Other birds, including red and red-necked phalaropes, may also be feeling impacts from predators, though data was less strong than with longspurs. At the same time, other species tested did not show an effect. Authors believe this may be due to high natural variation in nesting success across years and between sites.
The study appears in the September issue of the journal Ecological Applications. Authors include: Joe Liebezeit and Steve Zack of the Wildlife Conservation Society; S.J. Kendall, P. Martin and D.C. Payer of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; S. Brown of Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences; C.B. Johnson and A.M. Wildman of ABR, Inc; T.L. McDonald of West, Inc.; C.L. Rea of ConocoPhillips Alaska, Inc.; and B. Streever of BP Exploration (Alaska), Inc.
The authors monitored nearly 2,000 nests of 17 passerine and shorebird species over a four-year period. Birds from five continents migrate to the Arctic each year to nest.
“This is the first study specifically designed to evaluate the so-called oil ‘footprint’ effect in the Arctic on nesting birds,” said the study’s lead author, Joe Liebezeit of the Wildlife Conservation Society. “The study was also unique in that it was a collaborative effort among conservation groups, industry, and federal scientists.”
The impetus for this study stemmed from previous evidence suggesting predators have increased in the oil fields near Prudhoe Bay.
“The findings of this study shed new light on growing concerns about oil development impacts to wildlife in the Alaskan Arctic, an immense region that, outside of Prudhoe Bay, is still largely undisturbed by humans and home to vast herds of caribou, the threatened polar bear, and millions of breeding birds,” said Jodi Hilty, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s North America Programs.
WCS is engaged in separate studies in remote areas of the western Arctic, evaluating where wildlife protection would be most effective in advance of development.
“Our interest is in ensuring a balance of both wildlife protection in key areas and helping industry minimize potential impacts to wildlife as they begin to pursue development in western Arctic Alaska,” said Steve Zack, coauthor and Coordinator of the Arctic Program for WCS. “This study helps inform industry on some consequences of development.”
The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit: www.wcs.org
Special Note to the Media: If you would like to guide your readers or viewers to a web link where they can make donations in support of helping save wildlife and wild places, please direct them to: www.wcs.org/donation
Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel
Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
22.02.2018 | Life Sciences
22.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
22.02.2018 | Earth Sciences