Science

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The coastal refuges offer unique opportunities to study plants and animals in pristine or relatively undisturbed habitats. These field studies seek to answer questions ranging from the needs of a single species to how an entire ecosystem functions.

Below are summaries of ongoing research and field studies conducted at Nestucca Bay NWR.


White-cheeked Geese Surveys at Nestucca Bay

Six subspecies of white-cheeked geese winter at Nestucca Bay. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge in 1991, in part, to protect and enhance habitat for Dusky Canada and Aleutian Cackling Geese. 

Dusky Canada Geese have experienced a drastic population decline since the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake in Alaska and are listed as a species of concern by the USFWS. Things are looking up, however: The most recent total population estimate (17,699) is among the highest recorded in the 30 years of surveying this subspecies, 15% higher than reports in 2014. 

Populations of Aleutian Cackling Geese declined early in the 20th century and the USFWS listed the species as federally endangered in 1967. The Aleutian Cackling Goose had recovered sufficiently and was officially “de-listed” in 2001. Prior to de-listing, a management plan was developed that included specific conservation measures for the Semidi Islands sub-population. Biologists captured and marked Semidi Islands Aleutian Cackling Geese with neck collars and legs bands so that population monitoring of marked birds on the wintering grounds can be evaluated.

Get the 2013-14 goose report here (PDF 11 MB).

Coastal Prairie Restoration on Cannery Hill

Less than one percent of Oregon’s coastal prairie remains. Its decline is attributed to fire suppression, establishment of invasive species, and land development for home sites and grazing. Consequently, populations of prairie-dependent species such as the threatened Oregon Silverspot Butterfly have become small and disjunct. The USFWS Coastal Program is partnering with the Recovery Program, the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and the Institute for Applied Ecology to convert pastures consisting of non-native species to native coastal grasses and forbs. The goal is to promote plant species required by the butterfly on Nestucca Bay NWR's Cannery Hill Unit, aiming eventually to restore up to 39 acres of prairie by controlling non-native plants and establishing locally-sourced native plants cultivated by the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Plant Materials Center. Following restoration, Oregon Silverspot Butterflies will be reintroduced to establish a non-essential experimental breeding population of this species.

More on the Cannery Hill project here (PDF 487 KB).