The Alaska Science Center of the U.S. Geological Survey conducted an inventory of birds in montane areas of the four northern parks in the Arctic Network of National Parks, Alaska. This effort represents the first comprehensive assessment of breeding range and habitat associations for the majority of avian species in the Arctic Network. Ultimately, these data provide a framework upon which to design future monitoring programs.
A stratified random sampling design was used to select sample plots (n = 73 plots) that were allocated in proportion to the availability of ecological subsections. Point counts (n = 1,652) were conducted to quantify abundance, distribution, and habitat associations of birds. Field work occurred over three years (2001 to 2003) during two-week-long sessions in late May through early June that coincided with peak courtship activity of breeding birds.
Totals of 53 species were recorded in Cape Krusenstern National Monument, 91 in Noatak National Preserve, 57 in Kobuk Valley National Park, and 96 in Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. Substantial proportions of species in individual parks are considered species of conservation concern (18 to 26%) or species of stewardship responsibility of the land managers in the region (8 to 18%). The most commonly detected passerines on point counts included Redpoll spp. (Carduelis flammea and C. hornemanni), Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis), and American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea). The most numerous shorebirds were American Golden-Plover (Pluvialis dominica), Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata), and Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus). Most species were detected at low rates, reflecting the low breeding densities (and/or low detectabilities) of birds in the montane Arctic. Suites of species were associated with particular ranges of elevation and showed strong associations with particular habitat types.
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