Arctic Predators, Caught in the Act

October 26, 2011

Arctic Alaska, famous for playing host to tens of thousands of migratory birds that come from around the world to breed and nest each summer, has also become a playground for predator species like Arctic foxes, ravens, gulls, and owls. WCS conservation biologist Joe Liebezeit researches and photographs the effects of a changing landscape on area wildlife.

In a New York Times Green blog post, WCS conservation biologist Joe Liebezeit describes changes to the Arctic Alaskan landscape brought about by energy development and other human activities. For more than 10 years, Liebezeit has studied breeding birds that visit the region’s vast wetlands during the brief summer season. Though the Arctic nesting grounds are vital to the birds’ sustenance, evidence suggests the nearby oilfields are subsidizing rising numbers of nest predators that present serious challenges to the chicks’ survival.

“The network of roads and pipelines connecting oil drilling platforms and supporting facilities is a virtual playground for species like Arctic foxes, ravens, and gulls,” Liebezeit writes. “These generalist species, like the urban pigeon, are opportunistic consumers and take full advantage of garbage, roadkill and other sources of food left by mankind.”

Read more and view a slideshow of Arctic nest predators in the New York Times >>
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