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ABR Authors:
  • K. B. Rozell

  • C. B. Johnson

  • A. K. Prichard

  • A. E. Gall

  • R. L. McGuire



Responses of nesting greater white‐fronted geese to oil development in the Arctic

Rozell, K. B., C. B. Johnson, A. K. Prichard, A. E. Gall, and R. L. McGuire. 2024. Responses of nesting greater white‐fronted geese to oil development in the Arctic. Journal of Wildlife Management 88: e22575.

Oil and gas exploration and development is expanding across the Arctic Coastal Plain (ACP) of Alaska, USA. To examine the effects of industrial development on greater white‐fronted geese (Anser albifrons), we monitored nests and nesting behavior within a 4‐ km² study area within 4 km of gravel roads and pads during pre‐ development, construction, and operation activities at a new oil development in the National Petroleum Reserve‐Alaska in 2013−2019. We examined distribution, incubation constancy, and nest survival in relation to distance to gravel roads or pads, year and status of development, presence of an ice road the previous winter, and land cover type. Nest density increased throughout the study period, which was consistent with surveys of this species in other regions of the ACP. There was no direct evidence that oil extraction infrastructure and the associated human activity adversely influenced the abundance, distribution, or daily nest survival of greater white‐fronted goose nests. Geese avoided nesting in the alignments of ice roads from the previous winter, and land cover type influenced their nest distribution. Nest age and incubation constancy were important predictors of daily nest survival. The incubation constancy of successful nesters (98.5 ± 0.1% [SE]) was significantly greater than for failed nesters (94.7 ± 0.6%) for all years combined and tended to be greater during the pre‐construction and construction years of 2014 and 2015, compared to when oilfield operations began in 2017 and 2019. Greater‐white fronted geese appear to be tolerant of some levels of industrial activities and the presence of gravel roads did not have a significant effect on nest distribution, incubation constancy, or nest survival. We recommend, however, that indirect effects from ice roads should be explicitly considered in impact assessments because white‐fronted geese avoid nesting in the footprints of the previous winter's ice roads and pads.

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