Argos DCS System Use Agreement of the Month
– March 2017
Alaska Department of Fish and Game
There is widespread concern in Alaska regarding the population status of Aleutian terns (ALTE).
Aleutian terns have a small global population with known breeding sites primarily restricted to the Russia Far East and Alaska. While ALTE populations seem to be stable or increasing in Russia, populations within Alaska appear to be decreasing since the 1960's.
Given that the only state where Aleutian terns breed within the USA is Alaska, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has a stewardship responsibility to aid in the understanding of potential conservation concerns for this species.
The Aleutian tern is a difficult bird to study due to lack of breeding site fidelity, breeding habitat plasticity, gaps in accurate colony counts, variability in colony attendance within and among years, and potential for high inter-colony movement.
New technology from MTI in the form of their lightweight (2.2g) solar-powered PTTs will allow us to track individual birds during the breeding season. The information gathered from these individuals could include identification of previously unknown colonies, spatial extent of potential breeding dispersal, within year movements that aid in understanding of colony occupancy, and identification of migratory routes if the platforms last longer than expected.
All of the above information will aid in the understanding of the population status of Aleutian tern in Alaska that was never possible before. These data will shape appropriate further research and management actions to conserve the species.