Dr. Scott Petrie, Long Point Waterfowl Executive Director
Dr. Hugh Henry, University of Western Ontario
Dr. Michael Schummer, Long Point Waterfowl Scientist
Eastern population Tundra Swans winter along the Atlantic coast of the United States and breed from the North Slope of Alaska to the eastern side of the Hudson Bay in Canada. Tundra Swans spend 29% of their time on breeding grounds and 52% on staging grounds. Extensive migrations are made in spring when the birds are at their lowest annual body mass and in fall when juveniles are likely continuing to grow and adults are replenishing lipid reserves utilized during the breeding season and wing moult. Due to the substantial time spent in migration and the energy requirements associated with this period, migratory habitat is considered especially important to this species.
Long Point Waterfowl studied Tundra Swan migration chronology in the late 1990′s by placing satellite transmitters on 12 Tundra Swans during their migration stopover at Long Point, Lake Erie. Khristi Wilkins and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (P.hD. Project) tagged an additional 43 Tundra Swans with satellite transmitters on their wintering grounds
between 2000-2002. The Tundra Swans in Wilkin’s study were used to determine migratory movement, survival, and population structure.
The satellite locations of the 55 swans used in this study are shown in the following maps. These locations represent the tracked Tundra Swans’ activity during their spring and fall stop-over in the Great Lakes region. Using satellite, roadside survey, and aerial survey data collected from the aforementioned projects, Katelyn will study and compare Tundra Swan habitat use during migratory and winter periods. Specifically, she will look at seasonal differences in habitat selection by swans in major staging areas and on their wintering grounds. Understanding habitat selection
by season is very important for conservation and management of Tundra Swans. Accurate knowledge of the habitat types swans are selecting could help predict ecological carrying capacities and determine which areas require protection. Furthermore, if swans rely heavily on agricultural grains during spring migration as suspected, the switch to more economically viable agricultural products such as cotton and sugarcane could be detrimental to their population. The results of this study could also be used to make suggestions on proper placement of Industrial Wind Turbines to minimize impacts on swan migration and feeding.
Katelyn began her studies at the University of Western Ontario in January 2012.
Project Sponsors and Partners
Long Point Waterfowl
NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship
Toronto Sportsmen’s Show
TD Friends of the Environment Foundation
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service