USGS at The Wildlife Society: From sea-ice change to contaminants to predators and prey

three sites, to provide additional data on the passage of migrants, and their flight altitudes and directions. The data will be used to model the effects of topography, weather, and other variables on migrant abundance and flight in order to assess where and when migrants might be at risk from wind power development. Deanna K. Dawson, Session 21, Monday, Sept. 25, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (poster session)

Satellite radio tags allow researchers to quantify walrus haul-out behavior on Bering Sea ice for the first time:

Researchers used remotely deployed satellite-linked transmitters to obtain locations and chronologies of the haul-out status of individual Pacific walruses (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) in sea ice of the Bering Sea during early spring of 2004, 2005 and 2006. These data were matched with weather data from NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Predictions and used to assess relations between haul-out status and environmental and behavioral factors, providing the first quantitative analysis of walrus haul-out behavior in sea ice habitat. Such information is especially important with the recent substantial decline of arctic sea ice because identifying factors associated with haul-out status will lead to more accurate population estimates and provide more information about walrus behavior and sea ice usage. Walruses spent the majority of their time in water, averaging only about 20% of their time hauled out on sea ice. Their behavior was similar to that of other pinnipeds, in that the probability of being hauled out increased with temperature and barometric pressure and decreased with wind speed. The study also found that the probability of being hauled out varied among walruses, increased with the proportion of other walruses hauled-out concurrently, and was higher for walruses that were hauled-out at the previous time-point. These results are being used to help develop an estimate of the Pacific walrus population size. Mark Udevitz, Ses

Contact: Catherine Puckett
United States Geological Survey

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