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Status and trends of circumpolar peregrine falcon and gyrfalcon populations


The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) and the gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus) are top avian predators of Arctic ecosystems. Although existing monitoring efforts are well established for both species, collaboration of activities among Arctic scientists actively involved in research of large falcons in the Nearctic and Palearctic has been poorly coordinated. Here we provide the first overview of Arctic falcon monitoring sites, present trends for long-term occupancy and productivity, and summarize information describing abundance, distribution, phenology, and health of the two species. We summarize data for 24 falcon monitoring sites across the Arctic, and identify gaps in coverage for eastern Russia, the Arctic Archipelago of Canada, and East Greenland. Our results indicate that peregrine falcon and gyrfalcon populations are generally stable, and assuming that these patterns hold beyond the temporal and spatial extents of the monitoring sites, it is reasonable to suggest that breeding populations at broader scales are similarly stable. We have highlighted several challenges that preclude direct comparisons of Focal Ecosystem Components (FEC) attributes among monitoring sites, and we acknowledge that methodological problems cannot be corrected retrospectively, but could be accounted for in future monitoring. Despite these drawbacks, ample opportunity exists to establish a coordinated monitoring program for Arctic-nesting raptor species that supports CBMP goals.

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Change history

  • 21 January 2020

    While collating contributions and comments from 36 researchers, the coordinating authors accidentally omitted Dr. Suzanne Carrière from the list of contributing co-authors. Dr. Carrière’s data are described in Tables 1 and 3, Figure 2 and several places in the narrative.

    The new author list is thus updated in this article.


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Support to coordinate data acquisition and compilation, and manuscript preparation was provided to AF by Environment and Climate Change Canada, and to KF by the Danish Cooperation for Environment in the Arctic (DANCEA) of the Danish Environmental Protection Agency (MST-112-00276). We thank all members of the Arctic Falcon Specialist Group for freely sharing their data, and for contributing to the development of this manuscript. We are particularly grateful to the volunteer field staff. AS, VS, and IF were supported by Russian Fund for Basic Research and Yamal Government; other funding agencies and permitting authorities of each of the monitoring sites are too numerous to name; none of the work presented here would be possible without their support.

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Franke, A., Falk, K., Hawkshaw, K. et al. Status and trends of circumpolar peregrine falcon and gyrfalcon populations. Ambio 49, 762–783 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-019-01300-z

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  • Arctic
  • CBMP
  • Falco peregrinus
  • Falco rusticolus
  • Long-term trends
  • Occupancy
  • Productivity