Evaluating anthropogenic impacts on arctic breeding raptors

Peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) and rough-legged hawks (Buteo lagops) breed throughout the Canadian Arctic. Several monitoring programs were established in the 1970’s and 1980’s to evaluate the recovery of these and other raptors following the banning of DDT. DDT is a pesticide that was once widely used, but resulted in severe population declines in many raptors via its action of reducing egg shell thickness, resulting in low breeding success. Although raptor populations have recovered over the last several decades, the arctic is increasingly affected by other anthropogenic impacts including landscape disturbance from industrial activities (e.g., mining) and climate change. This project will study peregrines and rough-legged hawks at two sites Nunavut with the aim of understanding how these raptors respond to human-generated disturbances. Specifically, this project will address the following three questions: 1) How does proximity to anthropogenic disturbance such as mining activity affect nesting site selection? 2) Does the intensity of response to human observers visiting the nest predict other parental care behaviours? 3) How does year-to-year variation in environmental conditions affect the provisioning behaviour of parents? Each of these questions will be considered in light of their consequences for breeding productivity.

Intern: 
Ashton Bradley;Nick Gulotta;Rebekah McKinnon
Faculty Supervisor: 
Kimberley Mathot;Andrew Edward Derocher
Province: 
Alberta
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