Developmental Surveys for Breeding Scoters in Eastern North America

Project Number: 115
Year Funded: 2009
Lead Institution(s): Canadian Wildlife Service
Project Lead: Scott Gilliland
Collaborator(s): Christine Lepage (CWS), Jean-Pierre Savard (ECCC) Daniel Bordage (CWS),Gregory Robertson (ECCC), Eric Reed (CWS)
Location: Atlantic Flyway
Focal Species: Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata)
Project Description: Numbers of scoters appears to have declined greatly in western North America, whereas population size or trend data are not available for the more heavily hunted eastern populations (Bordage and Savard 1995, Savard et al. 1998, Caithamer et al. 2000). Further, little is known about the demography and ecology of Surf Scoters or breeding habitat characteristics in eastern North America. Despite greater anthropogenic threats to scoter populations in eastern North America, their status in this region remains highly uncertain. The May breeding pair surveys cover only a very small portion of their breeding range. Scoters are regularly encountered on Eastern Waterfowl Survey (EWS) in Labrador and northeastern Quebec (Fig. 1), but can only be identified to species with accuracy in the helicopter segment of the survey. These surveys are conducted at the end of scoter migration and only marginally overlap with the breeding period. It is not known whether the timing of the current survey introduces an important bias in estimates of breeding population size and trend, but it is generally agreed that surveys timed for the early nesting stages provide the most reliable estimates breeding pair numbers (SDJV 2005). The EWS is generally conducted too early in this regard. High costs have so far precluded the implementation of large scale, systematic breeding population survey of scoters and other late-nesting waterfowl.
Project Reports:
Developmental Surveys for Breeding Scoters in Eastern North America