Population Fluctuations and Distribution of Staging Eared Grebes (Podiceps Nigricollis) in North America

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Canadian Journal of Zoology






NRC Research Press

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Eared Grebes (Podiceps nigricollis Brehm, 1831) use saline ecosystems throughout much of their life cycle, and greater than 90% of the North American population stage during fall at two hypersaline lakes. At one of these lakes, Great Salt Lake (GSL), Utah, a commercial harvest of brine shrimp (Artemia franciscana Kellogg, 1906) cysts occurs during fall and may impact Eared Grebe populations. We used photo surveys on the other hypersaline lake, Mono Lake, California, and on the GSL, as well as aerial counts on the GSL, to describe population fluctuations of Eared Grebes staging on these lakes. The long-term (1997–2012) Eared Grebe population was 1.4 million on the GSL and 1.0 million on Mono Lake. Populations changed on GSL and Mono Lake in synchrony, indicating population regulation is likely occurring at wintering, not staging, areas and is influenced by El Niño effects. Location of Eared Grebes on the GSL was influenced by brine shrimp densities and did not overlap with concentrations of commercial harvest boats. Spatial segregation of commercial harvesters and Eared Grebes reduces negative impacts of anthropogenic disturbance on Eared Grebes. Knowledge of population changes within and among staging areas will help managers monitor long-term abundances and reduce negative impacts between Eared Grebes and commercial harvesters.

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