The Arctic Coastal Plain contains one of the largest and most stable collections of wetlands in North America, bounded on the north and west by the Arctic Ocean and stretching eastward to the international boundary with the Yukon Territory. This poorly drained, treeless coastal plain rises gradually from sea level to the adjacent foothills and then abruptly into the glaciated Brooks Mountain range. The poor surface drainage results in wet tundra habitats that are dominated by mosses and herbaceous sedges and grasses on the coastal plain. Numerous thaw lakes and wetlands are also present. Many of the shallow thaw-lake wetlands are of greatest value to breeding waterfowl.
Importance to waterfowl
- The region is a critically important area for migration and molting.
- Periodic drought displacement of northern pintail to this region is dramatic, where density of birds may reach as much as 15 percent of the continental population.
- This area has a significant, but declining population of spectacled and Steller's eiders, both federally threatened species.
- This region, combined with western Alaska, the Alaska Peninsula, Kodiak Island and the Aleutians, represents the most important area for sea ducks in the world.
- Wetland degradation in these regions is principally from petroleum development of the North Slope, transportation systems (roads, pipelines, airports) and urban development.
DU's conservation focus
- Coordinate resource selection analyses by waterbirds with conservation partners.
- Make digital land cover maps available to all resource managers, so that informed decisions can be reached.
- Coordinate research efforts with Alaska Science Center, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, universities, North Slope Borough and petroleum firms.
- Take a leadership role with DU Canada in landcover mapping for the Arctic Coastal Plain.