Conservation Focus: Snowy Owls
© DANIEL J COX / NATURALEXPOSURES.COM
CONSERVATION FOCUS: SNOWY OWLS
CLIMATE CHANGE, SNOWY OWLS, AND ARCTIC ECOSYSTEMS
The value of long-term research is best observed when an old project starts to tell a new story.
Such is the case with our Snowy Owl Research Project, based out of Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow), Alaska. Our research- the longest-running Snowy Owl project in the world- began in order to understand the relationship of Snowy Owls to lemmings and the implications to breeding. Over three decades later, we have examined and documented answers to many additional research questions.
We now embark on a collaborative project that utilizes this existing data in a new way. The project will work to better understand, and document, the effects of climate change on the declining Snowy Owl and lemming populations of our study area. We will partner with climate change researchers and statisticians to execute the analysis - the first of its kind for the Snowy Owl.
We know that climate change is real. During our time in the Arctic we have observed warming temperatures: ice is thinner, the permafrost thaw zone is deeper, there is less snow. The data to confirm and explain this process is exhaustive.
However, while we have data illustrating a Snowy Owl population decline in our study area, we don’t understand why. Globally, Snowy Owl populations have declined 64% since 1970.
They are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and are listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a Bird of Conservation Concern (2021).
Our project seeks answers, casting new light on how climate change affects Arctic species, their ecosystems, and leading us to informed remedies.
We need your support!
In addition to the described analysis, our long-term research and monitoring must continue. The Utqiagvik field season, which occurs for three months in late summer, is our most costly: annual costs include travel to remote northern Alaska, lodging, 4-wheeler maintenance, and field equipment.
The key to Snowy Owl conservation is long-term research and monitoring.
Please consider donating today to support our field research efforts. Your support helps us to advance what we can learn and share with others—the scientific community, the land managers, conservation leaders, and concerned citizens around the globe—and you!
The best research is the kind that leads to solutions, enabling us to save species, their habitats, and thriving ecosystems for generations to come.
Thank you for your support!