Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Wildland Resources

Committee Chair(s)

David N. Koons


David N. Koons


S. K. Morgan Ernest


Frank P. Howe


Human-caused climate alterations to Arctic ecosystems have resulted in a constellation of impacts on the biological relationships within them, yet the consequences of these changes on the population dynamics of many species are poorly understood. Thus, an understanding of the drivers of variation in population performance is needed to inform the management and conservation of imperiled species. Here, we use a long-term dataset for the common eider, an Arctic-breeding sea duck, to examine the drivers of annual variation in nest survival, and evaluate the effects of variation in vital rates on population growth. Our chapter 2 results suggested that increased abundance of local alternative prey may buffer annual fluctuations in arctic fox abundance, yet may stimulate populations of other nest predators (e.g. gulls), resulting in a long-term decline in nest success. Additionally, breeding season climate had a subtle effect on annual nesting success. In Chapter 3, we found that the population growth rate declined across the study, primarily due to changes nest success. Including correlations amongst vital rates altered the direction of effect of changes in vital rate variance. Thus, long-term studies are needed to accurately predict the effects of environmental change on populations, and a concerted effort should be made to monitor multiple parts of the life cycle simultaneously in order to correctly account for correlations amongst vital rates.




This work made publicly available electronically on July 30, 2012.