Birds, Plants, and Climate Transform the Y-K Delta

“The focus of our experiment is to look at the impacts of how climate—increased warming, earlier springs, shorter winters—are affecting the phenology and growth of Carex subspathacea, also known as Hoppner’s sedge, which happens to be a very important food resource for the geese here in the delta.” – Ryan Choi

Birds, Plants, and Climate Transform the Y-K Delta

The high nitrogen content of growing Hoppner’s sedge in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta makes the plant a super-food for young goslings. Warming temperatures can advance the time frame when plants start growing, changing the availability of forage for migratory geese.

“The black brandt colony has been on the decline for the last 15 years; their numbers are steadily going down. And we don’t entirely understand why that is the case,” Ryan Choi said. “Less geese out here to maintain these grazing lawns might lead to change in vegetation succession and new plants coming in and the subspath grazing lawns actually growing up and becoming less desirable for the birds to feed on.” While “Another theory is that increased storm surges has led to more frequent inundation as well as more sedimentation of this wet muddy substrate coming washed onto the land and actually covering some of these grazing lawns.”

Migratory birds vegetation climate transform Yukon Delta ecosystem

Ryan Choi

Migratory birds vegetation climate transform Yukon Delta ecosystem
Y-K Delta bird prints alongside Ryan Choi’s hand / Frontier Scientists

Birds, Plants, and Climate Transform the Y-K Delta video | Frontier Scientists YouTube

(Migratory birds vegetation climate transform Yukon Delta ecosystem)

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Project Summary

Climate Change and Brant Geese in the Y-K Delta

Climate Change and Brant Geese in the Y-K Delta

Climate Change and Brant Geese in the Y-K Delta Warming temperatures create a mismatch in the timing of plant growth and the arrival of migratory birds. Researchers explore the implications of this mismatch in Alaska's Yukon Delta National... Read More >