Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
YUKON DELTA: Refuge's Challenge Grant Promotes International Expedition
Alaska Region, September 16, 2004
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Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge recently hosted an international team of shorebird biologists working under auspices of the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat (SPRS). In 2005, SPRS is sponsoring a major international expedition to Beringia. The expedition's shorebird biologists will partner with the Refuge and the U.S. Geological Survey's Alaska Science Center (ASC) on migration studies of Bar-tailed Godwits and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers. The godwit, a species of high conservation concern, is thought to undertake the longest single-flight overwater migration in the bird world, up to 11,000 km from Alaska to New Zealand. Juvenile (but not adult) Sharp-tailed Sandpipers perform a bizarre "dog-leg" migration, heading east from their breeding grounds in the central Siberian arctic to staging grounds on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, before turning back to the southwest en route to wintering areas in Australia. To plan the 2005 expedition, shorebird specialists from Sweden, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, and the U.S. converged on the Refuge's Bering Sea coastline in September to evaluate logistic requirements, study sites, and field protocols with their Alaskan colleagues. The reconnaissance was funded through a Challenge Cost Share grant between the Refuge and Drs. Ake Lindstrom and Martin Green (Lund University, Sweden). Robert Gill of ASC provided invaluable logistic support and served as field crew leader. Working with Gill, the Refuge helped visitors conduct pilot field work on the Tutakoke River and at Refuge field stations on the central Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Old Chevak and Kanaryaraq. After an overwhelmingly positive response to the reconnaissance trip from our foreign colleagues, Refuge staff is looking forward to participating in the major phase of the effort in August and September of 2005.

Contact Info: Kristen Gilbert, 907-786-3391, Kristen_Gilbert@fws.gov
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