Nasaruvaalik Island - 75.83 N, 96.3 W

An Arctic oasis. 

Situated next to a highly productive polynya, this tiny gravel reef is the most important nesting site for a high diversity of species in the Queens Channel region. First identified as a key breeding site by Mark Mallory and Grant Gilchrist in 2002, Nasaruvaalik Island has been the focus of ongoing annual monitoring since 2007. Research here has focused on arctic terns, common eiders, and Ross's and Sabine's gulls.  



High Arctic brant and Peary caribou, two species we are always happy to see in the early season at Nasaruvaalik Island

Key REsearch to date

 

  • First comprehensive study of arctic terns at the northern limit of their range
  • First tracking study of Sabine's gulls in North America
  • Only current long-term monitoring study of Sabine's gulls 
  • First ever tracking study of Ross's gulls 
  • Most comprehensive study of Ross's gull breeding biology to date
  • Only current monitoring study of common eiders in the Canadian High Arctic

 

 


Point Barrow - 71.3 N, 156.8 W

A continent ends, two seas begin 

The northernmost extent of the continent, Point Barrow extends from the coastal plain of Alaska's North Slope and divides the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. Inland, the tundra marshes support the highest density of nesting waterfowl and diversity of breeding shorebirds in North America, as well as the calving grounds of several caribou herds, including the Porcupine herd - 170,000 strong. The nearshore marine environment supports some of the greatest concentrations of seabirds anywhere in the world. A critical foraging area and migration corridor for millions of alcids, waterfowl and shorebirds, the waters around Point Barrow come alive each spring and fall as birds stop to refuel or arrive to breed nearby. This area also has a fascinating cultural history, having been occupied by Iñupiat hunters since at least 500 AD. Eve today, many aspects of day-to-day life in Barrow reflect a long history of subsistence hunting.

 

Shanti Davis enjoying an evening stroll amidst a flock of Ross's, Sabine's and ivory gulls on the shore of Elson Lagoon near Point Barrow

Shanti Davis enjoying an evening stroll amidst a flock of Ross's, Sabine's and ivory gulls on the shore of Elson Lagoon near Point Barrow


Seymour island - 76.8 N, 101.3 W

stronghold of an endangered icon 

Seymour Island is the largest stable colony of ivory gulls known in Canada. Situated near the southern edge of what is continuous pack ice in most years, this colony contains anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred pairs of birds in any given year. Ivory gull populations in Canada are thought to have declined by over 80% in the last 25 years, but we still don't quite know why. Recent tracking studies have revealed the movement patterns of individual birds, providing a glimpse into the annual cycle of this species, but we still have much to learn about even the basic breeding biology of this poorly known and Endangered species in Canada.

Ivory gulls at Seymour Island. It seems unlikely that any species nests in more desolate habitat. 

Ivory gulls at Seymour Island. It seems unlikely that any species nests in more desolate habitat. 

KEY RESEARCH TO DATE

  • Only long-term monitoring study of ivory gulls in North America
  • Only tracking study of ivory gulls in North America

At Sea - anywhere, everywhere

The final frontier 

Seabird colonies permit access to large numbers of birds over an entire breeding season - and ideal opportunities to conduct focused studies. What most seabirds do in the 9 months of the year they are not breeding however, has remained pretty much a mystery. The only way to truly experience the world of a seabird, and fully understand the habitat they have evolved to live in, is to go to sea. Our group collaborates with a number of partners to take advantage of opportunities to explore the world's oceans and collect data on the distribution and abundance of pelagic birds. From the Arctic to the Antarctic, we use ships of opportunity to conduct surveys, access remote seabird colonies, and learn more about what seabirds do during the nine months a year they spend away from their breeding sites.  

The Russian Far East remains one of the least accessible regions in the entire Arctic, if not the world. The Professor Khromov near Cape Arakamchechen, Chukotka. 

The Russian Far East remains one of the least accessible regions in the entire Arctic, if not the world. The Professor Khromov near Cape Arakamchechen, Chukotka.