Mark Lindberg, Brandt Meixell, & Tim Spivey Institute of Arctic Biology, UAF USGS, Alaska Science Center Health and Ecology of Mallards Wintering on the Chena River
Mallard • Anasplatyrhynchos • One of the most abundant and ubiquitous ducks in North America – • 25 million?
Wintering Further North - Fairbanks • Why? • Open water • Warm water effluent • Feeding • Timing of increase - organized feeding (1 Nov) • Banding data • Most Aug and Sep birds appear to migrate • Diet (Stable Isotopes) • Data from Anchorage (numbers and weights)
Christmas Bird CountTrends Fairbanks ~5x Increase Since 2005 Organized Feeding (1 Nov – 1 May) ~1/2x since 2005
Opportunity – Yes and No • How does bird flu affect wild birds? • Repeatedly capture individuals through winter • Influenza and antibody response • Condition (Mass) • What are costs or benefits of wintering further north?
Avian Influenza Factoids • Naturally occurring Type A virus in waterbirds • Can infect poultry, other birds, other animal – rarely humans • Low and High Pathogenic forms • In humans • Mostly from poultry, no know infections from wild birds • Rarely between humans • H5N1 – 600 cases since 2003 • First case in Americas (Canada – Jan 2014, recent travel to China)
Methods • Monthly captures from August – May 2012-2014 • Swim-in traps and propelled nets • After Capture • Banding, measure, weigh, swabs, and blood • Release in Chena
Results - Mass 2013/2014 2012/2013 Feb Mass in Anchorage ~300g lighter 1kg = 2.2lbs
Results - AI • Analyzed at MIT • Only for 2012/13 so far • Serology - some infection during winter % Positive
Summary • Number of mallards wintering on Chena have increased from organized feeding • Birds in great condition • Overfed? • AI infection low • Increased risk of disease and spread • Concentrated • Food and feces mix • avian cholera, duck plague – DVE) • Migration is OK • Concerns about domestic birds • AI transfer • Hybridization • Future of power plant • Be Informed
Future • Limited effort on Chena next year • Collaborating with ADF&G on Anchorage study • Thanks: USGS, Alaska Science Center, USFWS, Yukon Flats NWR, M. Bertram, A. Brinkman, M. Cameron, B. Lake, M. Zarzyki