Contemporary Problems of Ecology

, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp 621–631 | Cite as

Post-breeding densities, population sizes and lake size partitioning of loon species in western Chukotka, Russia

  • D. V. SolovyevaEmail author
  • J. D. Paruk
  • J. Tash
  • S. L. Vartanayn
  • G. K. Danilov
  • V. V. Pospekhov
  • D. C. Evers


Loons (family Gaviidae) breed in small ponds and lakes across Arctic landscapes and are high level predators in the lake ecosystems. As such, they may serve as sentinel species, warning humans of alterations in habitat and ecosystem integrity in a region that is undergoing vast change due to climate warming. Here, we characterized the abundance and habitat use of four arctic breeding species of loons in the plains and surrounding mountains of western Chukotka, Russia. Loon surveys were conducted on foot and by boat from 2009–2015. Loon species differed in their use of the four lacustrine habitat types within the study area. In yedoma habitat, the yellow-billed loon (Gavia. adamsii) was the most abundant (0.593 birds/km2); on fluvial plain habitat, Pacific loons (G. pacifica) outnumbered other loons (0.701 birds/km2); mountain valleys were inhabited similarly by pacifica (0.354 birds/km2) and red-throated loons (G.stellata; 0.307); and maritime tundra was used only by pacifica (1.13) and Arctic loons (G. arctica; 0.553). G. adamsii was not observed in mountain valleys or maritime tundra. Mountainous portions of rivers were predominantly occupied by stellata and pacifica, and lowland rivers by stellata, pacifica and arctica. There was a significant difference in the size of lakes occupied by the four congeners. The largest loon, adamsii, occupied the largest lakes (0.69 km2), 80% larger than lakes utilized by pacifica (0.39 km2) and arctica (0.38 km2), and 35 times larger than stellata (0.02 km2). Most lakes were occupied by a single loon species (125/162, 77.2%).


Arctic loon diver Gavia arctica Pacific loon Gavia pacifica red-throated loon Gavia stellata yellow-billed loon Gavia adamsii Chukotka Russia 


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Copyright information

© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. V. Solovyeva
    • 1
    Email author
  • J. D. Paruk
    • 2
    • 3
  • J. Tash
    • 2
  • S. L. Vartanayn
    • 4
  • G. K. Danilov
    • 4
  • V. V. Pospekhov
    • 1
  • D. C. Evers
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Biological Problems of the North, Far Eastern BranchRussian Academy of SciencesMagadanRussia
  2. 2.Biodiversity Research InstitutePortlandUSA
  3. 3.St. Joseph’s CollegeStandishUSA
  4. 4.Shilo North-East Interdisciplinary Scientific Research Institute, Far Eastern BranchRussian Academy of SciencesMagadanRussia

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