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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Arctic Plains & Mountains - More Information

Background information on DU's Arctic Plains & Mountains - Alaska conservation priority area
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Current conservation programs

In partnership with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), USFWS, and North Slope Borough, DU completed a digital landcover map of the entire 9.4 million ha of the NPR-A (Kempka et al. 1995). Because of the immense size of the project area and limited field access, this effort was phased over three field seasons. The products from this effort have been used extensively in planning potential petroleum leases for the future. In addition to the landcover classification, correlations among mapped landcover classes and point locations for seven waterfowl species was conducted (Morton et al. 1998). Results from logistic regression model development suggest that the distribution of spectacled eider seem to coincide with high concentrations of Flooded Tundra, (Carex aquatilis), (Arctophila fulva) and smaller water bodies, and to be negatively associated with concentrations of Tussock Tundra, Dwarf Shrub, Ice, and large water bodies.


  • To complete 3,239,000 ha of mapping on the Arctic Coastal Plain.
  • To complete inventory of coastal and near shore habitats, which are critical for sea ducks.
  • To complete analyses of waterbird associations with landcover, especially in core areas such as Teshekpuk Lake and the Meade River.
  • To assist in research on arctic wetland ecology, sea duck ecology, and use of habitat by northern pintail.
  • To aid resource managers from BLM, USFWS, NPS, First Nations, and petroleum firms in positive management decisions.


  • As the Arctic Coastal Plain holds one of the largest known oil and gas reserves in the continent, development will expand rapidly in the next twenty years.
  • Oil spills as well as petroleum industry infrastructure and surface disturbance can impact waterbird use patterns.
  • There is an immediate need to understand where critical wetland complexes for waterbirds exist.


  • Coordinate further resource selection analyses by waterbirds with USFWS, BLM, and Alaska Science Center.
  • Expand partnerships with USFWS, especially Arctic NWR, and with Native Alaskans and petroleum firms.
  • Make digital land cover maps available to all resource managers, so that informed decisions can be reached.
  • Coordinate research efforts with Alaska Science Center, BLM, USFWS, Universities, North Slope Borough, and petroleum firms.
  • Take a leadership role in landcover mapping coordination for the Arctic Coastal Plain and coordinate efforts with DU Canada (DUC) into the MacKenzie River Delta.
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