A long-term study of Adélie penguin meta-population dynamics in the Ross Sea, Antarctica.

Adelie PenguinThis large, long-term, multi-national, multi-institution collaborative study recently concluded the 16th field season (5th funding cycle: 2010-2015) to understand the metapopulation dynamics of Adélie penguins in the Ross Sea.  We now have demographic information on uniquely marked, known-age, individuals at 3 colonies that are very disparate in size (4000 vs. 45,000, vs. 200,000 breeding pairs).  Thus, we are now closing in on a longitudinal data set for marked individuals in this metapopulation which represents what we believe is almost a complete maximum life span of this species in the wild (~20 years).  This long-term demographic data set will now allow the estimation and modeling of penguin vital rates (survival, reproductive success, age-at-1st breeding, movement rates, etc.) in association with age, colony, breeding status, and environmental factors, with the ultimate goal of understanding why adjacent colonies differ so greatly in size and how those size discrepancies are maintained.

This long-term work is funded by the National Science Foundation and you can learn more about the project objectives, our results to date, and our many collaborators at the project web site: www.penguinscience.com

Population Demography of Northern Spotted Owls

old growth forestThe Northern Spotted Owl is a Federally threatened subspecies and the source of serious controversy over the use of Federal forest resources in the Pacific Northwest.  The Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) was implemented in 1994 to provide a holistic management approach across all Federal lands that balanced the need for timber with the conservation of late-successional old growth ecosystems and the species that comprise them.  To evaluate the success of the NWFP, a monitoring program was implemented for several late-successional old growth dependent species, including the Northern Spotted Owl.  This monitoring program for spotted owls includes data collected on survival, productivity and rates of population change for 8 study areas comprised largely of Federal land and regular data analysis, evaluation, and dissemination of results is an integral component of this program (e.g., Anthony et al. 2006, Forsman et al. 2011, Dugger et al. 2016).  The data from this long-term monitoring program has resulted in 6 demographic workshops, where internationally-renowned biometricians, their brightest students who serve as analysts, and the field crew leaders responsible for data collection come together with federal management agencies, private industry, and tribal entities to analyze consistently collected, long-term spotted owl data.  Monographs resulting from previous major synthesis efforts in 2004, 2009, 2014 (Anthony et al. 2006, Forsman et al. 2011, Dugger et al. 2016) have been invaluable in the ongoing efforts to manage and conserve the Northern Spotted Owl, particularly in relation to the development of the Final Recovery Plan for the Northern Spotted Owl, the revision to this plan released in 2011, the proposed Critical Habitat rule, and the draft Environmental Impact Statement regarding the Barred Owl removal experiment proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In addition to providing information on the status and trends of spotted owl populations, these data continue to provide a unique opportunity to explore the factors that affect spotted owl vital rates, using sophisticated analytical approaches and a longitudinal data set.  To date, a total of approximately 50 peer-reviewed publications and 60 reports associated with data collected on these 6 study areas have been produced.