Evaluating the Impact of Multiple Stressors on Common Loon Population Demographics - An Integrated Laboratory and Field ApproachEPA Grant Number: R829085
Title: Evaluating the Impact of Multiple Stressors on Common Loon Population Demographics - An Integrated Laboratory and Field Approach
Investigators: Meyer, Michael W.
Institution: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: October 1, 2001 through March 31, 2005 (Extended to November 25, 2005)
Project Amount: $490,759
RFA: Wildlife Risk Assessment (2001) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Ecosystems , Biology/Life Sciences
Description:Assessing the ecological risk of mercury (Hg) exposure to piscivorous wildlife is a priority issue for federal and state resource management agencies and industry alike. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated northern Wisconsin and Michigan's upper Peninsula to be the region at greatest risk to Hg bioaccumulation in the Upper Midwest United States. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has evaluated the impact of numerous stressors, including Hg exposure, on common loon (Gavia immer) productivity on the breeding grounds in northern Wisconsin 1991-2000. Over 600 adult loons and chicks on 120 lakes were captured, individually color-marked, mercury exposure determined, habitat variables measured, and reproductive histories and annual return rates quantified. This project uses a rigorous field sampling scheme to produce a random sample of loon breeding pairs from which we calculate the common loon population density and critical population demographic parameters (adult survival, fecundity, and juvenile recruitment) on the breeding grounds. Concurrently, the impact of stressors on these parameters will be quantified. Several stressors are likely associated with impacts on loon demographic parameters including food availability, mercury exposure, shoreline development, predator density, lake morphology, water chemistry, and suitable nest habitat.
Specific objectives include: 1) a systematic random sample of the common loon breeding population in Wisconsin to quantify critical life history parameters necessary to calculate population density and to produce a common loon demographic model; and 2) quantification of the impact of multiple stressors (mercury exposure, habitat alteration, predation, disturbance) on these demographic parameters.