• Common ravens in Alaska's North Slope oil fields: an integrated study using local knowledge and science

      Backensto, Stacia Ann (2010-05)
      Common ravens (Corvus corax) that nest on human structures in the Kuparuk and Prudhoe Bay oil fields on Alaska's North Slope are believed to present a predation risk to tundra-nesting birds in this area. In order to gain more information about the history of the resident raven population and their use of anthropogenic resources in the oil fields, I documented oil field worker knowledge of ravens in this area. In order to understand how anthropogenic subsidies in the oil fields affect the breeding population, I examined the influence of types of structures and food subsidies on raven nest site use and productivity in the oil fields. Oil field workers provided new and supplemental information about the breeding population. This work in conjunction with a scientific study of the breeding population suggests that structures in the oil fields were important to ravens throughout the year by providing nest sites and warm locations to roost during the winter. The breeding population was very successful and appears to be limited by suitable nest sites. The landfill is an important food source to ravens during winter, and pick-up trucks provide a supplemental source of food throughout the year. Further research will be necessary to identify how food (anthropogenic and natural) availability affects productivity and the degree to which ravens impact tundra-nesting birds.