Polar Biology

, Volume 41, Issue 6, pp 1217–1236 | Cite as

Geographic and seasonal patterns of seabird subsistence harvest in Alaska

  • Liliana C. NavesEmail author
Original Paper


Assessing seabird harvest sustainability is difficult because of limited information on harvest and on harvest impacts on seabird populations. This study quantified seasonal harvest of seabirds and their eggs in all Alaska regions, addressed management and conservation questions, and identified topics where collaboration among stakeholders can support sustainable harvest opportunities and promote seabird conservation. In 2002–2015, the estimated subsistence harvest of seabirds was 24,315 birds/year. Murres (33%), auklets (28%), gulls (16%), and cormorants (14%) represented most of the harvest. Alaska-wide harvest patterns largely reflected harvest at the St. Lawrence–Diomede Islands, which represented 78% of the total seabird harvest. The Alaska-wide seasonal distribution of harvest was 56% in spring, 20% summer, and 24% fall-winter. The estimated egg harvest was 150,781 eggs/year and was largely composed of murres (51%) and gulls (45%) eggs. Harvest of most species, including species of conservation concern, was low relative to population sizes. However, harvest of eggs of terns may be significant compared to coastal egg productivity. A better understanding of threats to populations of terns is needed to clarify conservation priorities and to engage subsistence users in conservation efforts. Despite indications of reduced subsistence uses, harvesting of seabirds and their eggs remains culturally important and is a food security component in remote communities in Alaska.


Seabird harvest Seabird egg harvest Subsistence Harvest surveys Harvest management Seabird conservation 



I thank the thousands of individuals that provided household harvest information and I hope this study will be useful for their communities. David Otis, Jiaqi Huang, and David Koster helped to devise methods to calculate confidence intervals for harvest estimates. I also thank Kathy Kuletz, David Irons, Jim Fall, and anonymous reviewers for suggesting improvements to manuscript drafts.


This study was funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (cooperative agreement F12AC00653) and Alaska Department of Fish and Game Division of Wildlife Conservation (RSA-1155353). The findings and conclusions in this study are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Compliance with Ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This study re-analyzed and summarized the data from harvest surveys previously published. The original harvest surveys followed ethical principles for social science research (Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. 1999) comparable to those of the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments. Community consent to conduct harvest surveys was formalized as tribal council resolutions.

Informed consent

Informed consent was also obtained from all individual participants of harvest surveys. In this study, re-analyzing and summarizing previously available data did not require further consent.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 63 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 56 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (DOCX 45 kb)
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Supplementary material 4 (DOCX 43 kb)
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Supplementary material 5 (DOCX 43 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of SubsistenceAlaska Department of Fish and GameAnchorageUSA

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