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

glacial ice during the Pliocene and subsequent Pleistocene ice ages. Surveys conducted by USGS, USFWS and NPS in areas containing the bulk of their numbers in Alaska indicate that populations of glacier murrelets have declined by more than 80 to 90 percent during the past 20 years. This corresponds to an almost universal and increasingly rapid recession of glaciers and ice fields throughout Alaska, which itself is likely to be the result of global warming. Kittlitz's murrelets usually nest in high alpine on recently de-glaciated mountain peaks and forage in glacially modified marine waters. Today, the "glacier murrelet" is found only in areas with extensive ice sheets (e.g., Glacier Bay, Prince William Sound), remnant glaciers (e.g., Aleutian Islands), and in a few areas that once contained extensive ice fields, but are now glacier-free (e.g., Seward Peninsula). The fate of Kittlitz's murrelet likely hinges on the fate of Alaska's glaciers. Impacts of human activities, such as by-catch in nets and mortality from oil spills, will likely hasten their decline. On the positive side, genetic studies suggest that a few remote sub-populations may be less dependent on glacial environments than those found in core breeding areas. John Piatt, Session 22, Monday, Sept. 24, 3:50-4:10 p.m.

Elk calf mortality following wolf restoration in Yellowstone National Park:

With wolves having been restored to Yellowstone National Park, many people believed that these newcomers would be the main source of mortality for newborn elk calves. True, elk form the main part of the wolf's diet in the park. However, studies by the U.S. Geological Survey, Yellowstone National Park, and the University of Minnesota show that wolves only accounted for about 15 percent of newborn calf deaths whereas grizzly and black bears caused about 60 percent of their deaths. Calves with higher gamma globulin levels, a possible indicator of superior condition, survived better than those wi
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Contact: Catherine Puckett
cpuckett@usgs.gov
352-264-3532
United States Geological Survey
25-Sep-2006


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