Arctic Alaska is an important breeding ground for many migratory bird populations. A variety of factors associated with industrial development may impact nesting birds in this region, including increased nest predator populations associated with anthropogenic nesting and perching sites and the availability of anthropogenic food sources. We tested the indirect impact of oil development on nest survivorship in an artificial nest experiment at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, 2012–2014, by establishing and monitoring 268 artificial shorebird nests and 221 artificial waterfowl nests and through monitoring of real shorebird nests (n = 186). Distance to infrastructure and roads, and area of infrastructure within 2 km2 of the nest did not significantly affect nest survival of artificial or real nests. Artificial nest survival was higher at shorebird than waterfowl nests. Cameras deployed at a subset of artificial shorebird nests documented nest predation by Arctic fox (Alopex lagopus), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), parasitic jaegers (Stercorarius parasiticus), pomarine jaegers (Stercorarius pomarinus), long-tailed jaegers (Stercorarius longicaudus), northern harriers (Circus cyaneus), and glaucous gulls (Larus hyperboreus). The presence of a camera had a positive effect on artificial shorebird nest survival, possibly due to cameras being placed on progressively older nests throughout the season. In conclusion, we did not detect an effect from infrastructure on nest survival at the scale of the study, in either real or artificial nests. We suggest caution when using artificial nests for Arctic research, given differences in survival of real and artificial nests in this study, and potential differences in nest predators.
Polar Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 19, 2017
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