Thursday, September 18, 2014

New Studies Put Focus On Adirondack Loons

Loons  Jlarsenmaher 2Biodiversity Research Institute’s (BRI’s) Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS’s) Adirondack Program have announced that three new articles summarizing research on Adirondack loons have been published in a special issue of the journal Waterbirds that is dedicated to loon research and conservation in North America. Research was conducted on the Common Loon (Gavia immer), which breeds on Adirondack lakes,  by BRI and WCS in collaboration with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, SUNY ESF’s Adirondack Ecological Center, Paul Smiths Watershed Stewardship Program, and other partners.

“We are pleased to have our loon research in the Adirondack Park included in this unique publication,” Dr. Nina Schoch, Coordinator of BRI’s Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, said in a statement to the press. “The special issue includes fifteen scientific papers highlighting loon behavior, life history and population ecology, movements and migration, habitat and landscape requirements, and the risk contaminants pose to loon populations. The publication will be a valuable resource to help guide the conservation of loon populations throughout North America.”

The first study, titled “Wildlife Criterion Value for the Common Loon (Gavia immer) in the Adirondack Park, New York, USA,” estimated a water mercury threshold in Adirondack aquatic ecosystems that minimizes impacts from mercury pollution to loons breeding in the Park. The establishment of a Wildlife Criterion Value based on Adirondack loons is hoped to provide legislators with a standard to incorporate into policies to better protect New York’s environmental quality. (link to study)

The second article, led by author Carolyn Spilman, is titled “The Effects of Lakeshore Development on Common Loon (Gavia immer) Productivity in the Adirondack Park, New York, USA.” This study concluded that it is important to place development (houses, boat houses etc.) in clusters along Adirondack lakeshores to buffer loon nest sites from disturbance related to developed areas. (link to study)

“We know that residential development has significant impacts on wildlife in the Adirondacks.  This demonstrated impact to loons from development on the lakeshore reinforces the need for careful planning in this highly sensitive ecological zone.  Using conservation development principles along lakeshores can help as much as in upland environments,” Dr. Michale Glennon, Science Director for WCS’s Adirondack Program, said in a press statement.

The third article is titled “The Impact of Mercury Exposure on the Common Loon (Gavia immer) Population in the Adirondack Park, New York, USA.” This study used Common Loons as a sentinel species to assess the risk and exposure of wildlife to environmental mercury pollution in the Adirondack Park, and determined that 21% of male loons and 8% of females are at risk for behavioral and reproductive impacts based on elevated levels of mercury in their blood. Additionally, it was found that loons breeding on acidic lakes had higher mercury levels and produced fewer chicks than loons breeding on non-acidic lakes. (link to study)

The special issue of Waterbirds is available online at For more information on this research about Adirondack loons, visit and

Photo provided.

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One Response

  1. Wally Elton says:

    Thank you for summarizing this important information. And thanks to BRI and WCS for their vital work. Can’t imagine the Adirondacks without loons.

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