Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: Lifetime Fitness Consequences of Reproductive Strategies (Award# 0743152)

PI: Sedinger, James S (
Phone: (775) 784.6556 
Institute/Department: U of Nevada, Reno, Environmental and Resource Sciences 
IPY Project? NO
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\BIO\DEB
Program Manager: Dr. Saran Twombly (
Discipline(s): | Biology |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
For this project, the researcher will use manipulative experiments and a long-term study (24 years to date) of Brant geese, combined with state-of-the-art capture-mark-recapture (CMR) approaches, to address the role of reproductive strategies in optimal life-histories. The combination of a long-term marking effort and use of modern demographic techniques creates a unique opportunity to understand life-history strategies in long-lived animals. Researchers partition fitness consequences of lifetime reproductive success into current reproduction of the Brant and future reproductive value. Individuals have been marked on the Tutakoke River study site since the 1950s, intensively since 1986, providing approximately 30 cohorts (1975-2005) available for observation of life-histories. The PI experimentally manipulates both clutch sizes and brood sizes of uniquely marked Brant of varying quality (based on reproductive investment at the time of experiments) to manipulate costs of breeding in the current year. He uses sampling on the colony in the current year to assess the impact of experiments on the current year’s offspring. He will estimate two parameters that determine fitness value of current reproduction: prefledging survival of offspring and offspring size, which determines future survival and fecundity. He will use sampling of marked adults and CMR approaches to assess impacts of experiments on future adult survival and breeding probability. He will analyze experimental effects on subsequent laying date and clutch size, both determinants of fitness, using general linear models, with both initial reproductive parameters (e.g., clutch size and laying date) and manipulations of clutch size and brood size as explanatory variables. The ability to characterize both short and long term costs and benefits of reproductive strategies is relatively unique. The long term marking program and the large number of cohorts available for study provides an unusual opportunity to study impacts of early reproductive investment on senescent declines in survival and reproduction. There are four broader impacts of the study. This study is the primary source of data for understanding population regulation of Brant geese. The PI interacts regularly with state and federal management agencies and past data from this study has guided development of the current management plan for Brant. The PI collaborates closely with David Ward (USGS) working in Mexico, where Brant winter. This collaboration allows researchers to link life-history traits to conditions in wintering areas, uncommon for a long-distance migrant. Observations of individuals away from the breeding colony enable the researchers to address questions not possible for studies restricted to breeding areas. The PI regularly employs students from the Yupik village, Chevak, AK, which also provides logistics support to the project and the project also provides training for graduate students and post docs.

Logistics Summary:
This LTREB (Long-Term Research in Environmental Biology) project will continue a long-term study of Brant geese using uniquely tagged individuals. The goal of this effort is an assessment of the factors influencing demography and population dynamics. For 5 summers beginning in 2008, a research team of about 8 will work at a remote camp approximately 25 km southwest of Chevak, Alaska, on the Bering Sea coast. The field team will occupy a portable, remote camp at the site, maintained by the PI. The camp is made up of cooking/living weatherports and individual tents for sleeping. They will use snowmachines and boats to travel between Chevak and their camp, and an ATV for travel in Chevak.

CPS will provide an annual satellite phone and staff assistance in late April each year to set up the Chevak field camp. All other support will be arranged by the PI and paid from the grant.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2008Alaska - Chevak04 / 18 / 2008 07 / 21 / 20088
2009Alaska - Chevak04 / 15 / 2009 07 / 31 / 20098
2010Alaska - Chevak8
2011Alaska - Chevak8
2012Alaska - Chevak04 / 14 / 2012 07 / 20 / 20128

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Parameters used to generate this report:, Grant# = "0743152", IPY = "ALL" 
     Number of projects returned based on your query parameters = 1