Polar Biology

, Volume 37, Issue 11, pp 1705–1710 | Cite as

Quantifying fall migration of Ross’s gulls (Rhodostethia rosea) past Point Barrow, Alaska

  • Mark MafteiEmail author
  • Shanti E. Davis
  • Brian D. Uher-Koch
  • Callie Gesmundo
  • Robert Suydam
  • Mark L. Mallory
Short Note


The Ross’s gull (Rhodostethia rosea) is a poorly known seabird of the circumpolar Arctic. The only place in the world where Ross’s gulls are known to congregate is in the near-shore waters around Point Barrow, Alaska, where they undertake an annual passage in late fall. Ross’s gulls seen at Point Barrow are presumed to originate from nesting colonies in Siberia, but neither their origin nor their destination has been confirmed. Current estimates of the global population of Ross’s gulls are based largely on expert opinion, and the only reliable population estimate is derived from extrapolations from previous counts conducted at Point Barrow, but these data are now over 25 years old. In order to update and clarify the status of this species in Alaska, our study quantified the timing, number, and flight direction of Ross’s gulls passing Point Barrow in 2011. We recorded up to two-thirds of the estimated global population of Ross’s gulls (≥27,000 individuals) over 39 days with numbers peaking on 16 October when we observed over 7,000 birds during a 3-h period.


Ross’s gull Rhodostethia rosea Migration Survey Point Barrow Alaska Trans-Beringian 



The authors wish to thank George Divoky for his invaluable insight into the design of this study. We are also grateful for the very generous logistical support provided by the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management, and we specifically wish to thank Taqulik Hepa and Craig George for their assistance. This study was made possible by a grant from the Canadian Wildlife Federation Endangered Species Program. We also thank Canada Goose Inc. for providing field supplies. Finally, we wish to thank Paul Flint and George Divoky for their thoughtful comments and suggestions in reviewing this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Maftei
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shanti E. Davis
    • 1
  • Brian D. Uher-Koch
    • 2
  • Callie Gesmundo
    • 3
  • Robert Suydam
    • 4
  • Mark L. Mallory
    • 5
  1. 1.High Arctic Gull Research GroupBamfieldCanada
  2. 2.U.S. Geological Survey Alaska Science CenterAnchorageUSA
  3. 3.High Arctic Gull Research GroupKalamazooUSA
  4. 4.North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife ManagementBarrowUSA
  5. 5.High Arctic Gull Research Group, Department of BiologyAcadia UniversityWolfvilleCanada

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