Navigation Links
Snowy owl -- a marine species?
Date:12/10/2008

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 Universit 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.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jean-Francois Therrien
jean-francois.therrien.3@ulaval.ca
418-656-2131 x6327
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Marines land at UO, leave with plans to wear Oregon-made training suits
2. Gulf of Mexico dead zone to be studied by University of Texas at Austin marine scientists
3. US Army, US Navy, US Air Force, US Marines, US Department of Defense conference held at UH
4. Scripps scientists discover fluorescence in key marine creature
5. Pollution from marine vessels linked to heart and lung disease
6. Marine scientists warn human safety, prosperity depend on better ocean observing system
7. Present-day species of piranha result from a marine incursion into the Amazon Basin
8. Global climate change: The impact of El Niño on Galápagos marine iguanas
9. Global climate change: The impact of El Nio on Galpagos marine iguanas
10. Why diving marine mammals resist brain damage from low oxygen
11. Resilience concepts poised to aid management of coastal marine ecosystems
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/1/2017)... BOSTON, Massachusetts , February 1, 2017 ... and events on emerging technology, announces the availability of a new ... Continue Reading ... ... systems in industrial and collaborative robots. Source: IDTechEx Report "Sensors for ...
(Date:1/30/2017)... --  Invitae Corporation (NYSE: NVTA ), ... announced that it will report its fourth quarter and ... Monday, February 13, 2017, and Invitae,s management team will ... Eastern / 1:45 p.m. Pacific. During ... results, guidance, and recent developments and will spend the ...
(Date:1/26/2017)... DENVER , Jan. 26, 2017  Acuity ... Trends for Biometrics and Digital Identity".  Acuity characterizes ... digital identity when increased adoption reflects a new ... "Biometrics and digital identity are ... says Maxine Most , Principal of Acuity ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/22/2017)... ... February 22, 2017 , ... ... addition of Tom Perkins as European director. Operating from Pennside’s Zurich headquarters, Pennside ... , Perkins joins Pennside after more than a decade with leading market ...
(Date:2/22/2017)... N.C., Feb. 22, 2017  United Therapeutics Corporation (NASDAQ: ... results for the fourth quarter and year ended ... results reflect continued growth as net revenues reached ... Martine Rothblatt, Ph.D., United Therapeutics, Chairman and Chief ... to develop and advance our growing product pipeline, ...
(Date:2/21/2017)... Feb. 21, 2017 /PRNewswire/ - SQI Diagnostics Inc. ("SQI" or the ... results for the three months ended December 31, 2016. ... life sciences and diagnostics company that develops and commercializes proprietary ... ... build on the commercial milestones achieved in fiscal 2016," said ...
(Date:2/21/2017)... ... February 21, 2017 , ... ... Liquid Biopsy System , a fully automated benchtop system for collecting intact circulating ... is being launched at the Molecular Medicine Tri Conference (Tri-Con) Annual Meeting 2017 ...
Breaking Biology Technology: