2023 Angus Gavin Memorial Migratory Bird Research Grant Awarded
June 9, 2023
Julie Schram, Ph.D., an assistant professor of animal physiology at University of Alaska Southeast, is the recipient of the 2023 Angus Gavin Memorial Migratory Bird Research Grant. Her research will assess the nutritional quantity and quality available to red-listed migratory Red Knots (Calidris canutus roselaari) at their first stopover point in Alaska, Controller Bay, along their annual migratory route from Northwest Mexico to breeding grounds on Wrangell Island, AK.
Of the six recognized subspecies of Red Knots across the globe, the Pacific subspecies (Calidris canutus roselaari) is the least studied and has the smallest population size - approximately 21,770 birds. Unlike the other subspecies of Red Knots that are known to stage for weeks at a time during migration, roselaari knots only forage for several days at a time (“stopover” rather than stage) as they migrate to their northern breeding grounds. Given this short duration of stay, foraging, and resting at stopover sites in the Pacific flyway are very important for migratory and breeding success.
Schram’s findings to her proposal, titled “Feast or Famine: Investigating food quality and availability to migratory Red Knots in Controller Bay, AK,” can help form the basis of conservation efforts.
The Gavin Grant is awarded annually to support research on bird species found either permanently or seasonally in Alaska or its coastal waters, including their biology, general ecology, and habitat relationships. This specific project will assist in understanding how climate change may affect Alaska’s avian population over time.
The Gavin Grant was established in 1983 with gifts from ARCO and its employees to honor the memory of Angus Gavin, an environmental scientist and advisor to ARCO. Gavin was hand-picked by ARCO Chairman Robert O. Anderson to observe, categorize and quantify the little-known flora and fauna of Prudhoe Bay in 1969. Gavin’s work was instrumental in helping ARCO and the scientific community draw conclusions about the impact of oil field development on the ecology of the North Slope and to recommend operational changes that would minimize or negate any adverse effects on the environment. ARCO later became part of ConocoPhillips Alaska.