In response to ongoing and emerging health threats to loons, BRI has initiated a continent-wide Common Loon health assessment study. This large-scale study will be the most comprehensive loon health survey ever conducted, focusing on loons from key regions across North America: New England, New York, Minnesota, Wyoming, Montana, Washington, Alaska, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan.
Lead Investigator: Michelle Kneeland, D.V.M.
BRI is leading a large-scale, multi-year study on the health of Common Loons across the continent. This four-year study, begun in the summer of 2014, will enable a comprehensive health assessment of the North American loon population. The vital data collected will aid loon restoration and management efforts, and identify emerging issues of conservation concern.
A wildlife health study of this scale has rarely been possible in the past, and our findings will extend far beyond loons as well. Using loons as bioindicators, the study will help us evaluate the ecological health of a region that is tied closely to the health of other wildlife species and the health of the people living within that shared environment.
The major goals of the study are to:
The project focuses on three key regions across the continent:Northwestern Region
Blood and other samples are collected from loons during BRI’s banding efforts in each region. Working closely with our loon research biologists, BRI’s veterinary staff oversees the sample processing and analysis procedures. Health analyses to be conducted are carefully ranked by priority for each region to ensure the most valuable data are collected from a limited blood sample.
Data covering a wide range of health measures will be collected, including:
Full necropsy examinations of loons that are found dead will be conducted to determine causes of mortality, and to collect tissue samples for further analysis and diagnostics. This information will expand current loon mortality databases and help determine primary threats to loons.
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