Boise Conference to Explore Effects of Climate Change on Gyrfalcon and Other Species in Arctic
15 December 2009
The effects of climate change on Gyrfalcons and other wildlife in the Arctic will be explored at a conference in early 2011 sponsored by The Peregrine Fund, Boise State University and the U.S. Geological Survey.
"Gyrfalcons and Ptarmigan in a Changing World," will be held Feb. 1-3, 2011, at Boise State University. Organizers expect scientists, policy analysts, land managers, and other conservationists from around the world to attend.
"We hope to learn more about the many and complex ways in which climate change may affect the entire ecosystem by focusing on the Gyrfalcon and its prey," said Rick Watson, Vice President of The Peregrine Fund, a Boise-based conservation group for birds of prey. "If we can identify specific steps to take on behalf of the Gyrfalcon, we can potentially help conserve many of the species that inhabit that region."
As top predators, birds of prey are excellent indicators of environmental stress, Watson said. In the 1960s, the plight of the Peregrine Falcon signaled the dangers of DDT, a pesticide that affected reproduction in many birds, including the Bald Eagle. After DDT was banned and a 30-year re-introduction program begun, the Peregrine Falcon recovered and was removed from the U.S. Endangered Species List.
Similarly, the Gyrfalcon may be a good indicator species for the Arctic, where the effects of global climate change are expected to be greatest. This bird of prey--the largest of all falcons--is not currently endangered but the total population appears to be in decline. Ptarmigan, a primary food source for the Gyrfalcon, also is well-suited to the Arctic's harsh conditions. The conference will explore how climate change could affect the Gyrfalcon's ability to compete for ptarmigan and other food, migrate, nest, and reproduce. It also will identify what steps may be required to address such changes.
Registration and additional information is available at:http://www.peregrinefund.org/Gyr_Conference