Funded Research Projects: WILDLIFE SCIENCE

Evaluate displacement of birds by recreational activities in Denali National Park

Research Sponsored By: USDI National Park Service
Principal Investigator: John Marzluff
Project Description
Recreation and other human activities impact bird communities in natural areas by direct disturbance and associated changes in infrastructure and habitats to support recreational activities. Some birds such as Gray Jays may respond positively to changes in natural habitats such as the building of campgrounds that might provide food resources while other birds like Golden Plovers may respond negatively to disturbance by recreational users such as hikers that might flush them from their ground nests potentially leading to higher predation risk for eggs and chicks. In Denali National Park and Preserve, anecdotal evidence points to a decrease in the number and diversity of birds inhabiting areas around the Park Road and developed campgrounds and rest areas. Long-term surveys aimed at monitoring abundance of birds along the Denali Park Road have noted declines in some bird species, but it is unknown whether these declines are due to changes in recreational use or are park-wide changes in bird distribution or abundance. This study will evaluate the distribution and abundance of birds in areas of development and high human use versus less disturbed habitats in the park. Research may also investigate impacts to nesting behavior and success. The study will provide the NPS with critical information aimed at protecting bird resources in Denali.