Few data exist to assess the value of National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska management buffer zones for conservation-reliant yellow-billed loons or sympatrically breeding red-throated and Pacific loons.
USGS and National Zoo scientists evaluated movements of these loons on the Arctic Coastal Plain to understand seasonal timing, marine habitat use, and spatial characteristics of breeding home ranges and evaluated current management strategies in the context of loon biology. Results showed yellow-billed loons had larger breeding home ranges, but less frequently used the marine environment in summer than the other two loon species. During autumn, yellow-billed and Pacific loons used areas farther from shore, whereas red-throated loons stayed close to shore during all three seasons. Management buffers established for yellow-billed loon nesting areas corresponded well with nest site space use of all three species. However, most loons used areas outside of established coastal buffer zones to protect fish and wildlife habitat. Findings can inform assessment of conservation buffer zones on loons in Alaska.
Poessel, S.A., Uher-Koch, B.D., Pearce, J.M., Schmutz, J.A., Harrison, A., Douglas, D.C., von Biela, V.R., Katzner, T.E., 2020, Movements and habitat use of loons for assessment of conservation buffer zones in the Arctic Coastal Plain of northern Alaska: Global Ecology and Conservation, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2020.e00980