Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Snowy Owl -- A Marine Species?

Date:
December 24, 2008
Source:
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council
Summary:
Wildlife satellite studies could lead to a radical re-thinking about how the snowy owl fits into the Northern ecosystem. "Six of the adult females that we followed in a satellite study spent most of last winter far out on the Arctic sea ice," said a professsor who is working to better understand key indicator species of Canadian northern ecosystems.

Snowy Owl. Wildlife satellite studies could lead to a radical re-thinking about how the snowy owl fits into the Northern ecosystem.
Credit: iStockphoto/Andre Gravel

Wildlife satellite studies could lead to a radical re-thinking about how the snowy owl fits into the Northern ecosystem.

Related Articles


"Six of the adult females that we followed in a satellite study spent most of last winter far out on the Arctic sea ice," said Universit้ Laval doctoral student Jean-Francois Therrien, who is working with Professor Gilles Gauthier as part of an International Polar Year (IPY) research project to better understand key indicator species of Canadian northern ecosystems.

The finding flabbergasted the biologists who are now curious to find out if Inuit seal hunters ever encounter the large white birds on the ice in winter darkness.

"As for what the birds were doing there, they were possibly preying on seabirds," said Gauthier. "Bird researchers at coastal field sites have observed snowy owls attacking eiders in winter. This hypothesis will be strengthened if we can match up the locations of our birds with the position of open water leads in the ice as recorded by other satellite data."

The researchers find it intriguing that the top Arctic bird predator, like the top mammal – the polar bear, is also part of the marine ecosystem. The possible implications for the species will be discussed by Therrien this Wednesday in Quebec City at the Arctic Change Conference, one of the largest international research conferences ever held on the challenges facing the north.

It was very surprising, said Therrien, how far the individual birds migrated from where they were banded on their nesting grounds on Bylot Island, north of Baffin Island.

"The satellite data showed just how dramatic the owl movements are. They flew huge distances. One owl went to Ellesmere Island, another flew straight to North Dakota and a third ended up on the eastern point of Newfoundland," he said.

The researchers say that this winter should provide many southern Canadians with a better than normal opportunity to see the magnificent birds.

"We had the largest abundance of lemmings in many years in our study area this past summer," said Gauthier. "The owls had no problems raising young, so we were informally predicting a strong outward movement of young owls this winter."

And indeed, judging by numerous newspaper reports and naturalist sightings, that prediction has already come true.

In fact, if anyone has a really ingenious idea to keep them away from airports, there is at least one airport authority that would like to hear from you. One owl-plane collision has already been reported this year at Montreal-Trudeau International Airport in Dorval.

"The support from IPY and NSERC and the advances in satellite technology have given a huge impetus to what promises to be a revolution in our understanding of this key northern species," said Gauthier. That knowledge can't come soon enough, the two researchers said.

Jean-Francois Therrien's presentation "Reproductive success and long-distance movements of snowy owls: Is this top predator vulnerable to climate change" took place at the Arctic Change Conference in Quebec City on December 10.

Therrien received an NSERC Northern Internship for his work, which was also conducted as part of the NSERC IPY ArcticWOLVES project based out of Universit้ Laval. Arctic WOLVES stands for Arctic Wildlife Observatories Linking Vulnerable Ecosystems.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. "Snowy Owl -- A Marine Species?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 December 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081210143416.htm>.
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. (2008, December 24). Snowy Owl -- A Marine Species?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081210143416.htm
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. "Snowy Owl -- A Marine Species?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081210143416.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

AP (Dec. 21, 2014) — Officials have opened a new road on Hawaii's Big Island for drivers to take care of their daily needs if encroaching lava from Kilauea Volcano crosses a highway and cuts them off from the rest of the island. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scuba Diving Santa Off Florida Keys

Raw: Scuba Diving Santa Off Florida Keys

AP (Dec. 20, 2014) — A scuba diving Santa Claus explored the waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Dive shop owner Spencer Slate makes the dive each year to help raise money for charity. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — US President Barack Obama says that construction of the Keystone pipeline would have 'very little impact' on US gas prices and believes there are 'more direct ways' to create construction jobs. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) — Lava from an active volcano on Hawaii's Big Island slowed slightly but stayed on track to hit a shopping center in the small town of Pahoa. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins