• 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.
    • Reproductive behavior and related social organization of the muskox on Nunivak Island

      Smith, Timothy E. (1976-05)
      The sexual behavior and social organization of the muskox (Ovibos moschatus wardi Zimmerman) were studied on Nunivak Island, Alaska, in fall 1972 and summer and fall 1973. Observation effort was concentrated on a single harem group for two months, during the height of courtship activity. Movements and fluctuations in the structure of this group are documented. There was no significant change in mean herd size as a result of the rut, suggesting the existence of a basic social unit independent of the influence of harem bulls. Harem bulls were in the 6-10 year age class. They exerted a stabilizing influence on the harem but did not direct its movements. The rut extended from early July to mid-October. Copulation occurred on September 4 and 5. General patterns of sexual and agonistic behavior are described. Changes in activity patterns as a result of the rut are shown. Bulls displayed more marked changes than cows or juveniles. The proportion of time allocated to sexual and agonistic behavior increased at the expense of maintenance activity as the rut progressed.