IAB Research Project Description

Spatiotemporal variation in the non-breeding distribution of Spectacled Eiders

Any and all uses of these images must include photographer credit.

The Chukchi and Bering Seas harbor the world population of spectacled eiders (Somateria fischeri) 9-11 months each year. Eiders sometimes gather in large groups in openings in sea-ice, where they dive to feed on epibenthic fauna.

Eiders may be affected by resource development or environmental change directly through disturbance, accidents or changes in the extent of sea-ice; or indirectly by modifications of their food base.Unlike other eiders (King (Somateria spectabilis), Common (Somateria mollissima), and Steller’s (Polysticta stelleri)), the non-breeding distribution of Spectacled Eiders appears to be restricted to a single wintering area and few molting and spring staging areas.

This phenomenon has the potential to create bottlenecks where the effects of environmental change might be detrimental to a significant proportion of the world population or to a single breeding population.

However, there is little known about Spectacled Eider habitat use and survival away from breeding areas making it difficult to predict how this threatened species will respond to rapid climate and ecosystem change. We will integrate satellite telemetry data with stable isotope analysis, survival modeling, analyses of migratory connectivity, and spatiotemporal home range modeling to investigate aspects of the non-breeding distribution of Spectacled Eiders that might be affected by rapid change in the Arctic.

We will compare telemetry data collected from 2009-2012 to data collected from a similar population in the early 1990s.

Project Funding

North Pacific Research Board
1 Sep 2010 – 1 Sep 2013
IAB Proposal #2010-081
UAF Grant #G6690
IAB Project #224

Outreach & Media

News and Outreach Articles

  • Spectacled Eiders winter hideaway
    [ link ]

Media Contact

Marie Thoms
Communications/Web Manager
Institute of Arctic Biology
302A Irving I
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK 99775-7000
email: methoms@alaska.edu
phone: 907.474.7412