Swan Research

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USGS research on swans in Alaska has focused on pathogens, contaminants, and demographic rates in each of the different breeding areas of Alaska. The vastly different migration patterns of swans in Alaska means that there are multiple factors on the wintering grounds and during migration that may influence population size and trends.

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Tundra Swan

Tundra swan on the Colville River Delta

Tundra swan on the Colville River Delta, Alaska 2013.(Credit: Ryan Askren, U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain.)

Tundra swans, once known as whistling swans, are a common breeding bird along coastal portions of Alaska. Understanding the population status and trends of this species has been of long interest, particularly because there are distinctly different migratory populations across the state.  Birds that breed on the North Slope of Alaska, winter on the east coast of North America, whereas those nesting in western Alaska winter along the west coast.  Additionally, birds breeding along the Alaska Peninsula are largely non-migratory. USGS research on this species has focused on their unique migratory pathways and how different factors in these migratory corridors may influence the population trend of this species.

USGS research on tundra swans in Alaska has focused on pathogens, contaminants, and demographic rates in each of the different breeding areas of Alaska. The vastly different migration patterns of tundra swans in Alaska (see maps below) means that there are multiple factors on the wintering grounds and during migration that may influence population size and trends of this species. See the publications tab of this page for more information on USGS science related to tundra swans. 

Autumn and spring migratory pathways for Tundra Swans

Autumn and spring migratory pathways for Arctic Coastal Plain (blue), Bristol Bay Lowland (orange), and Lower Alaska Peninsula (red) populations of Alaska tundra swans from 2008 through 2011 based on locations of birds marked with satellite transmitters.  Publication: Molecular Detection of Hematozoa Infections in Tundra Swans Relative to Migration Patterns and Ecological Conditions at Breeding Grounds https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0045789
(Credit: Craig Ely, USGS. Public domain.)