Migration and winter ecology of the Aransas-Wood Buffalo Population of whooping cranes

Science Center Objects

The only self-sustaining population of endangered whooping cranes nests within and near Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada, migrates through the Great Plains, and winters primarily along the Texas Gulf Coast. Our objectives of this collaborative project are to address the entire annual life cycle of this species by advancing knowledge of breeding, wintering, and migration ecology, including threats to survival and population persistence.  This research will allow us to identify potential barriers to species recovery.  To complete this work, we have deployed and monitored >80 GPS-enabled satellite transmitters during 2010–2018.  Through coordination of international capture teams and development of innovative trapping techniques, our efforts represent the first time adult whooping cranes have been successfully captured and marked. We also are characterizing stopover sites used by whooping cranes to document surrounding habitat characteristics and land management practices to better define habitat criteria required by the species at stopover sites like the Platte River.  Results from this project will inform recovery and management of whooping cranes into the foreseeable future.