STP1219

    Density and Productivity of Bald Eagles in Prince William Sound, Alaska, After the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

    Published: Jan 1995


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    Abstract

    Helicopter surveys were conducted in Prince William Sound (PWS) to assess the effects of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill on the reproductive success and densities of bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) one and two years after the spill (1990 and 1991). Densities of bald eagles were compared between an oiled area in southwestern PWS and an unoiled area in northern PWS. In all surveys (four in 1990, one in 1991) densities of eagles in the oiled area generally were similar to or higher than those in the unoiled area. Reproductive success was compared between nesting territories that were oiled within 1 km of nests and nesting territories that were unoiled. In 1990, all measures of nest productivity, nest occupancy, and nesting success were similar between oiled and unoiled territories. In 1991, however, the number of young per successful nest was lower in oiled territories. The number of successful nests was slightly lower in 1991 than in 1990 in oiled territories but was significantly lower in 1991 in unoiled territories. Comparisons of nest occupancy and nesting success could not be made in 1991 because early surveys were not conducted. Differences between areas, territories, and years could not be attributed to oil, but rather appeared to be related to natural annual variability. Overall, no demonstrable effects of the oil spill on eagle density or reproduction could be detected in PWS one and two years after the spill.

    Keywords:

    Alaska, bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, eagle densities, Exxon Valdez, oil spill, nest densities, nesting success, nest occupancy, oiling, Prince William Sound, productivity


    Author Information:

    White, CM
    Brigham Young University, Provo, UT

    Ritchie, RJ
    Alaska Biological Research (ABR), Inc., Fairbanks, AK

    Cooper, BA
    Alaska Biological Research (ABR), Inc., Fairbanks, AK


    Paper ID: STP19880S

    Committee/Subcommittee: E47.13

    DOI: 10.1520/STP19880S


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