The Critical Connections Program: studying the full life-cycle of Denali's migratory birds (2017-2019)
Conserving migratory species is one of the greatest challenges facing the National Park Service (NPS), particularly as human activities spread across areas used by migratory animals. Migratory birds nesting in NPS areas present unique conservation challenges because they are influenced by conditions and events in more than one part of the world, including on their wintering areas that are often thousands of miles away from their protected breeding grounds. With support from the National Park Service, Alaska Geographic and the Denali Education Center, we are launching the Critical Connections Program to expand our knowledge about the year-round needs of the migratory wildlife of Alaska's National Parklands and to provide park managers and others with information essential for implementing effective conservation strategies for these migratory species.
The first stage of the program focuses on: 1) studying the year-round movements of migratory birds that nest in Denali and assessing how conditions across their year-round range affect their ability to return to their northern breeding grounds and successfully produce young; and, 2) building the Alaska National Parklands Migratory Bird Atlas, an online reference tool that will contain all available information about the migration routes, stopover areas, wintering areas and conservation issues of migratory birds nesting in Alaska's National Parklands.
Summary of proposed field methods and activities:
1. Capture and attach geo-locators or pinpoint GSP tags to a sample n = 30 of each species including Arctic Warblers, Fox Sparrows, Hermit Thrush, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Wilson's Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Long-tailed jaeger, and Swainson's Thrush within 2 miles of Denali Park Road.
2. Birds will be captured in mist-nets placed in their respective territories.
3. Birds will be tagged and released within 30 minutes of capture.
4. Birds will be recaptured in late spring/early summer the year after tagging and geo-locators/pinpoint GPS will be removed.
(All of this work has been approved by the NPS Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee).
Minimum Requirement Analysis (MRA), complete (Wilderness).