COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus in Canada - 2014

Red-necked Phalarope

Photo of a female Red-necked Phalarope
Photo credit: Bree Walpole.

Special Concern
2014

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables

List of Appendices

Top of Page


Document Information

COSEWIC
Committee on the Status
of Endangered Wildlife
in Canada

COSEWIC logo

COSEPAC
Comité sur la situation
des espèces en péril
au Cananda

COSEWIC status reports are working documents used in assigning the status of wildlife species suspected of being at risk. This report may be cited as follows:

COSEWIC. 2014. COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. x + 52 pp. (Species at Risk Public Registry).

Production note:

COSEWIC acknowledges Bree Walpole and Paul Smith for writing the status report on the Red-necked Phalarope, Phalaropus lobatus, prepared under contract with Environment Canada. This report was overseen and edited by Marty Leonard, Co-chair of the Birds Specialist Subcommittee.

For additional copies contact:

COSEWIC Secretariat
c/o Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment Canada
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0H3

Tel.: 819-938-4125
Fax: 819-938-3984
E-mail: COSEWIC E-mail
Website: COSEWIC

Également disponible en français sous le titre Ếvaluation et Rapport de situation du COSEPAC sur le Phalarope à bec étroit (Phalaropus lobatus) au Canada.

Cover illustration/photo:

Red-necked Phalarope -- Photo credit: Bree Walpole.

Top of Page


COSEWIC Assessment Summary

Assessment Summary – November 2014

Common name
Red-necked Phalarope
Scientific name
Phalaropus lobatus
Status
Special Concern
Reason for designation
This bird has declined over the last 40 years in an important staging area; however, overall population trends during the last three generations are unknown. The species faces potential threats on its breeding grounds including habitat degradation associated with climate change. It is also susceptible to pollutants and oil exposure on migration and during the winter. This is because birds gather in large numbers on the ocean, especially where currents concentrate pollutants.
Occurrence
Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Québec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Pacific Ocean, Arctic Ocean, Atlantic Ocean
Status history
Designated Special Concern in November 2014.

Top of Page


COSEWIC Executive Summary

Red-necked Phalarope
Phalaropus lobatus

Wildlife Species Description and Significance

The Red-necked Phalarope is a small shorebird, easily recognized in breeding plumage by the red-orange colour on the sides and base of its neck. The remainder of its plumage is primarily blue-grey and white. Females are more brightly coloured than males. Non-breeding plumage is white along the head, throat, breast and underparts, with dark upperparts, eye stripe and crown. Unlike most other shorebirds, the Red-necked Phalarope spends much of the non-breeding season at sea.

Distribution

The Red-necked Phalarope breeds across the entire circumpolar sub- and low-Arctic. However, the species’ distribution, in particular while at sea, is not completely understood. The primary over-wintering sites for North American breeding Red-necked Phalaropes are believed to be off the western coast of Peru, with migration along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America, and through the continent’s interior towards the California shoreline. In Canada, the species breeds or migrates through every province and territory.

Habitat

While migrating and during the winter months, Red-necked Phalaropes concentrate at sea in areas where prey is forced to the surface (e.g., convergences and upwellings). To a lesser extent, migrants may also stop at lakes and ponds in interior North America, especially saline lakes with abundant aquatic invertebrates. Red-necked Phalaropes breed in low- and sub-Arctic wetlands, near freshwater ponds, lakes, or streams. The drying of freshwater ponds and the expansion of shrubs and trees into low- and sub-Arctic wetland habitats, with a changing climate, is expected to have a significant impact on habitat quality and availability for the species.

Biology

All phalarope species exhibit sex-role reversal, with males undertaking the majority of parental care. Females initiate the selection of a nesting site and may mate with multiple males. Nests are a simple scrape containing 4 eggs. Neither sex defends a territory. Shortly after laying, females desert incubating males in search of other mates. Females then congregate near the coast or leave the breeding grounds entirely, with males remaining until later in the season to tend young.

While at sea, Red-necked Phalaropes form large flocks and prey almost exclusively on zooplankton.

Population Size and Trends

Estimates of population size are based largely on expert opinion. The current estimate of abundance within North America is a minimum of 2 500 000 individuals, with about 74% or 1 850 000 individuals occurring in Canada. This is likely an underestimate, as it was derived by approximately summing the estimated number of individuals at known key stopover sites. Migration routes are incompletely known, so some unknown fraction of the population would not be included in this sum.

Trend estimates from various studies are imprecise and capture only a small fraction of the population, offering little insight into population status. Targeted surveys in the outer Bay of Fundy offer the most reliable information, albeit for a restricted area. Millions once passed through the area, with estimates of up to 3 000 000 in the outer Bay of Fundy in the 1970s. By 1990, they had declined drastically. In the most recent surveys (2009-2010), an estimated 550 000 Red-necked Phalaropes occurred between Grand Manan and Brier Island in the Bay of Fundy. Despite the significant uncertainty, experts generally agree that the species is less abundant in the Bay of Fundy than it once was. Declines have also been noted on the breeding grounds (e.g., Churchill and La Perouse Bay, Manitoba; Herschel Island, Shingle Point, and Old Crow Flats, Yukon), although observations are limited.

Threats and Limiting Factors

The many knowledge gaps relating to the species, particularly regarding adaptability, migration and over-wintering biology, make threat identification challenging. A change in climate, and associated habitat and food-web effects, is likely the single greatest threat to Red-necked Phalaropes on their breeding grounds. The build-up of contaminants in the Arctic environment, increase in industrial activities, and denuding of vegetation caused by increasing Snow Goose populations are also likely to have negative impacts on breeding birds and their habitat.

Changes in ocean temperature, salinity, and currents due to climate change are also likely to affect the species during the non-breeding season. A decline in the availability of prey at traditional staging areas and over-wintering sites could also have an impact on the species. Other possible threats during the non-breeding season include increased disturbance (e.g., shipping traffic) and a change in water quality. While at sea, Red-necked Phalaropes are also susceptible to the impacts caused by chronic oiling and point-source oil spills, as well as the ingestion of microplastics.

Protection, Status, and Ranks

The Red-necked Phalarope receives protection under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994. It also receives protection through the Convention on Migratory Species, in which it is included under Appendix II. The species is ranked as ‘moderate concern’ in both the Canadian and United States Shorebird Conservation Plans. The global and national (Canada and United States) conservation status ranks for Red-necked Phalarope indicate that the species is apparently secure. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List ranks the species as “least concern” globally.

Top of Page


Technical Summary

Scientific Name:
Phalaropus lobatus
English Name:
Red-necked Phalarope
French Name:
Phalarope à bec étroit
Range of occurrence:
Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Québec, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, North Atlantic Ocean, North Pacific Ocean, Arctic Ocean

Demographic Information

  • Generation time

    Calculated assuming age at first breeding at 1 year, adult survival of 75% and juvenile survival of 60%

    • 4 yrs
  • Is there an [observed, inferred, or projected] continuing decline in number of mature individuals?

    Decline likely since 1970s, but short-term trends unknown

    • Unknown
  • Estimated percent of continuing decline in total number of mature individuals within [5 years or 2 generations]

    • Unknown
  • [Observed, estimated, inferred, or suspected] percent [reduction or increase] in total number of mature individuals over the last [10 years, or 3 generations]

    Decline likely since 1970s, but short-term trends unknown

    • Unknown
  • [Projected or suspected] percent [reduction or increase] in total number of mature individuals over the next [10 years, or 3 generations].

    • Unknown
  • [Observed, estimated, inferred or suspected] percent [reduction or increase] in total number of mature individuals over any [10 years, or 3 generations] period.

    • Unknown
  • Are the causes of the decline clearly reversible and understood and ceased?

    Causes of earlier declines unknown

    • No
  • Are there extreme fluctuations in number of mature individuals?

    • No

Extent and Occupancy Information

  • Estimated extent of occurrence

    • 8 695 459 km2
  • Index of area of occupancy (IAO, 2 x 2 km2grid values)

    IAO based on 2x2 km grids cannot be calculated because precise locations are unknown. However, given the population size and distribution, the estimated IAO exceeds the threshold of 2000 km2.

    • > 2 000 km2.
  • Is the population severely fragmented?

    • No
  • Number of locations

    • Unknown, but > 10
  • Is there an observed continuing decline in extent of occurrence?

    • No
  • Is there an observed continuing decline in index of area of occupancy?

    • Unknown
  • Is there an [observed, inferred, or projected] continuing decline in number of populations?

    • N/A
  • Is there an [observed, inferred, or projected] continuing decline in number of locations?

    • Unknown
  • Is there an [observed, inferred, or projected] continuing decline in quality of habitat?

    • Yes
  • Are there extreme fluctuations in number of populations?

    • N/A
  • Are there extreme fluctuations in number of locations?

    • No
  • Are there extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence?

    • No
  • Are there extreme fluctuations in index of area of occupancy?

    • No

Number of Mature Individuals

  • Total SLE Population:

    • 1850000

Quantitative Analysis

  • Probability of extinction in the wild is at least [20% within 20 years or 5 generations, or 10% within 100 years].

    • Unknown

Threats (actual or imminent, to populations or habitats)

Scope and severity of threats are difficult to estimate due to substantial knowledge gaps.

Breeding – habitat degradation and loss due to change in climate, contaminants, industrial activities and overabundant snow geese.

Migration and Over-wintering – change in prey availability and distribution, oil spills and chronic oiling, and ingestion of microplastics

Rescue Effect (immigration from outside Canada)

  • Status of outside population(s)?

    Status in Alaska likely similar to Canada. Unknown status throughout remainder of range.

    • Largely unknown
  • Is immigration known or possible?

    Immigration is possible due to strong migratory abilities and the observation that some individuals show low fidelity to breeding sites.

    • Yes
  • Would immigrants be adapted to survive in Canada?

    • Yes
  • Is there sufficient habitat for immigrants in Canada?

    Phalaropes do not defend territories and can occur at a high density in suitable habitat.

    • Yes
  • Is rescue from outside populations likely?

    • Possible

Data-Sensitive Species

  • Is this a data-sensitive species?
    • No

Status History

  • COSEWIC: Not yet assessed

Status and Reasons for Designation:

Status:
Special Concern
Alpha-numeric code:
Not applicable
Reasons for designation:
This bird has declined over the last 40 years in an important staging area; however, overall population trends during the last three generations are unknown. The species faces potential threats on its breeding grounds including habitat degradation associated with climate change. It is also susceptible to pollutants and oil exposure on migration and during the winter. This is because birds gather in large numbers on the ocean, especially where currents concentrate pollutants.

Applicability of Criteria

Criterion A (Decline in Total Number of Mature Individuals):
Does not meet criterion. Population trends are unknown.
Criterion B (Small Distribution Range and Decline or Fluctuation):
Does not meet criterion. EO and IAO are above the thresholds.
Criterion C (Small and Declining Number of Mature Individuals):
Does not meet criterion. Population size is above the thresholds.
Criterion D (Very Small or Restricted Population):
Does not meet criterion. Population size, IAO and the number of locations are above the thresholds.
Criterion E(Quantitative Analysis):
There are no quantitative analyses available.

Top of Page


COSEWIC logo

COSEWIC History

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) was created in 1977 as a result of a recommendation at the Federal-Provincial Wildlife Conference held in 1976. It arose from the need for a single, official, scientifically sound, national listing of wildlife species at risk. In 1978, COSEWIC designated its first species and produced its first list of Canadian species at risk. Species designated at meetings of the full committee are added to the list. On June 5, 2003, the Species at Risk Act (SARA) was proclaimed. SARA establishes COSEWIC as an advisory body ensuring that species will continue to be assessed under a rigorous and independent scientific process.

COSEWIC Mandate

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) assesses the national status of wild species, subspecies, varieties, or other designatable units that are considered to be at risk in Canada. Designations are made on native species for the following taxonomic groups: mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, arthropods, molluscs, vascular plants, mosses, and lichens.

COSEWIC Membership

COSEWIC comprises members from each provincial and territorial government wildlife agency, four federal entities (Canadian Wildlife Service, Parks Canada Agency, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Federal Biodiversity Information Partnership, chaired by the Canadian Museum of Nature), three non-government science members and the co-chairs of the species specialist subcommittees and the Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge subcommittee. The Committee meets to consider status reports on candidate species.

Definitions (2014)

Wildlife Species
A species, subspecies, variety, or geographically or genetically distinct population of animal, plant or other organism, other than a bacterium or virus, that is wild by nature and is either native to Canada or has extended its range into Canada without human intervention and has been present in Canada for at least 50 years.
Extinct (X)
A wildlife species that no longer exists.
Extirpated (XT)
A wildlife species no longer existing in the wild in Canada, but occurring elsewhere.
Endangered (E)
A wildlife species facing imminent extirpation or extinction.
Threatened (T)
A wildlife species likely to become endangered if limiting factors are not reversed.
Special Concern (SC)
(Note: Formerly described as “Vulnerable” from 1990 to 1999, or “Rare” prior to 1990.)
A wildlife species that may become a threatened or an endangered species because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats.
Not at Risk (NAR)
(Note: Formerly described as “Not In Any Category”, or “No Designation Required.”)
A wildlife species that has been evaluated and found to be not at risk of extinction given the current circumstances.
Data Deficient (DD)
(Note: Formerly described as “Indeterminate” from 1994 to 1999 or “ISIBD” [insufficient scientific information on which to base a designation] prior to 1994. Definition of the [DD] category revised in 2006.)
A category that applies when the available information is insufficient (a) to resolve a species’ eligibility for assessment or (b) to permit an assessment of the species’ risk of extinction.

The Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, provides full administrative and financial support to the COSEWIC Secretariat.

Top of Page


Wildlife Species Description and Significance

Name and Classification

The Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus; Linnaeus 1758), or Phalarope à bec étroit (French), and formerly known as the Northern Phalarope, is a shorebird in the family Scolopacidae. It is most closely related to the Red Phalarope (P. fulicarius) and secondarily to Wilson’s Phalarope (P. tricolor), a classification supported by morphological (e.g., Chu 1995) and molecular evidence (e.g., Gibson and Baker 2012). It was first described as Tringa tobata, then T. lobata, and was placed in the genus Lobipes for the first half of the 20th century (Rubega et al. 2000).

Morphological Description

The Red-necked Phalarope is the smallest species in the genus Phalaropus (Rubega et al. 2000), measuring approximately 18 cm in length. In breeding plumage (Fig. 1), birds are easily recognized by stripes of red-orange plumage at the base of the neck and along the sides of the face, running laterally along the back of the head and sides of the throat. The remainder of their breeding plumage is primarily dark (blue-grey) and white. The needle-like bill, legs, and feet are black. They have a dark head and neck, a white throat, cheeks, and eye spots (sometimes eye stripes). The dark breast fades into a white abdomen, and undertail, while the back, rump, tail, and upperwings are dark with golden-chestnut fringes along the mantle and scapulars. A white wingbar is visible in flight. As in other shorebird species that exhibit sex-role reversal, females tend to be slightly larger and brighter.

After moulting into non-breeding plumage in late summer, males and females are difficult to distinguish. Both are white along the head, throat, breast, and underparts except for a dark eye stripe and crown. Upperparts are predominantly dark to light grey with some light colouration along the scapulars and mantle. Juvenile colouration resembles non-breeding plumage of adults. Yearlings are difficult to distinguish from older Red-necked Phalaropes, except for measures of wing-length ratio (Schamel and Tracy 1988). Juveniles and non-breeding adults can be difficult to distinguish from the closely related Red Phalarope, which has a stouter bill and less prominent striping (Rubega et al. 2000).

Figure 1. Adult female Red-necked Phalarope in breeding plumage, Niglingtak Island, Mackenzie River Delta, Northwest Territories (Photo credit: Bree Walpole 2006).
Photo of a female Red-necked Phalarope
Long description for Figure 1

Photo of a female Red-necked Phalarope (lateral view), standing in shallow water. The image shows the bird in breeding plumage, with red-orange colouring on the sides and base of its neck. The remainder of its plumage is primarily blue-grey and white. Non-breeding plumage is white along the head, throat, breast and underparts, with dark upperparts, eye stripe, and crown.

Top of Page

Population Spatial Structure and Variability

A study using random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analyses found significant genetic variability (FST = 0.10, Χ2 = 48.0, d.f. = 18, p = 0.00) among Red-necked Phalaropes from three breeding sites (Churchill, MB, Mackenzie Delta, NWT and Prudhoe Bay, AK) and a migratory stopover site (Quill Lakes, SK; Haig et al. 1997). Genetic comparisons of breeding populations from other parts of the range of this species, as well as with birds outside the Americas are lacking.

Designatable Units

There is insufficient evidence at this time to support more than one designatable unit.

Special Significance

All phalaropes, including the Red-necked Phalarope, exhibit the uncommon breeding behaviour of sex-role reversal, in which males are smaller, less colourful, and provide all parental care (i.e., tend the nest, eggs and young). Where conditions allow, females may take multiple mates. This polyandrous breeding system is rare among vertebrates, with shorebirds offering a disproportionate number of examples. Phalaropes are also unique in their feeding behaviour. When phytoplankton and aquatic invertebrates are not readily available at the water’s surface, phalaropes use their feet and legs to create a vortex that draws this food towards the surface, within reach. As a result, feeding phalaropes can be seen “spinning” as they pluck food from the water with their needle-like bill.

Aboriginal traditional knowledge is not currently available for this species.

Top of Page


Distribution

Global Range

The Red-necked Phalarope is the most widely distributed of the phalaropes, with breeding records across the whole of the circumpolar sub-Arctic. Breeding has been observed in Greenland, Spitsbergen, Iceland, Faeroes, Scotland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Russia, the United States (Alaska), and Canada (Rubega et al. 2000).

In the Americas, Red-necked Phalaropes likely have a continuous breeding distribution across the northern reaches of the continent. Breeding observations have been reported as far west as the Alaska Peninsula and as far east as the Labrador coast (Rubega et al. 2000). Red-necked Phalaropes are at least as abundant in the Western Hemisphere as elsewhere in the range. Abundance within North America is estimated at approximately 2 500 000 individuals, determined by approximately summing the estimated number of individuals at key stopover sites (Morrison et al. 2006, Andres et al. 2012). Population size elsewhere in the range is also uncertain, but believed to be greater than 1 000 000 breeding individuals in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of western Eurasia from Scotland to the Taymyr Peninsula, Russia, and 100 000 to 1 000 000 breeding across central and eastern Siberia (Wetlands International 2013).

Red-necked Phalaropes over-winter in marine habitats at low latitudes. As with the breeding distribution, knowledge of the non-breeding distribution has been pieced together from opportunistic sightings. Birds that breed in North America are believed to winter primarily along the Pacific coast from Mexico south to Chile (Rubega et al.2000), with a majority of the birds concentrated offshore of Panama and Peru. A regular concentration is associated with the Humboldt Current off the coast of Peru (Murphy 1936). Some wintering birds are sighted irregularly along the Atlantic coasts of Georgia and Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, as well as along the southwest coast of Central and South America (Rubega et al. 2000). Unlike the Red Phalarope, Red-necked Phalaropes are not commonly found in large numbers off the west coast of Africa, suggesting that Red-necked Phalaropes breeding in the Eastern Canadian Arctic cross over to the Pacific during migration. Recent information from a geolocator placed on a breeding Red-necked Phalarope from the Island of Fetlar (Scotland) provides some support for this theory. After crossing the Atlantic Ocean, passing south of Greenland to the coastal waters of Labrador, it followed the eastern seaboard, and crossed the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific where it over-wintered east of the Galapagos Islands (Smith et al. 2014).

During northward migration, birds wintering off the Pacific coast of South America likely follow the shoreline to the Gulf of California, then some move inland through the Great Basin and Prairie Provinces while others continue their coastal path to Alaska (Rubega et al. 2000). Some are also likely to cross into the Gulf of Mexico, flying north along the eastern seaboard, as was the case for the tagged individual returning to the Island of Fetlar (Smith et al. 2014).

Congregations of southbound migrants numbering upwards of 3 000 000 were once observed staging in the Gulf of Maine and the Bay of Fundy (Finch et al. 1978). The breeding origin of these birds is unknown, but presumed to include individuals from the eastern Canadian Arctic and sub-Arctic. Indeed, the non-breeding distribution of Red-necked Phalaropes is very poorly known and the possibility remains that significant concentrations of wintering birds occur in unknown locations.

Canadian Range

In Canada, Red-necked Phalaropes occur in every territory and province as either breeders or migrants (Figs. 2, 3). In British Columbia, breeding has been reported in the Chilkat Pass region of the St. Elias Mountains (Godfrey 1986, Campbell et al. 1990), neighbouring the Alaskan border. British Columbia’s Breeding Bird Atlas (2013) indicates a single confirmed breeding observation. The breeding range likely spans suitable habitat along the northern edge of the province, but confirmation is lacking due to the remoteness of this area. Breeding observations have been noted in north-central Alberta (e.g., Caribou Mountains; Höhn and Mussell 1980), northern Saskatchewan (e.g., Lake Athabasca), and along the southern coasts of Hudson and James Bays in northeast Manitoba (e.g., Churchill), northern Ontario (e.g., between Cape Henrietta Maria and Pen Islands; D. Sutherland pers. comm.; Nol and Beveridge 2007) and northern Québec. Breeding records in Québec also include the Lake Beinville area, islands in Ungava Bay, the Ungava Peninsula, Lake Bérard, Gregory Lake, the Schefferville region and Rupert Bay (Todd 1963, Godfrey 1986, Cotter 1996, Andres et al. 2006). Breeding observations have been confirmed along the coast of Labrador, as far south as Battle Harbour (Godfrey 1986), and possibly towards the Strait of Belle Isle (Todd 1963). Breeding has not been confirmed in Newfoundland (Peters and Burleigh 1951) or Prince Edward Island (NatureServe 2013). Reports from Prince Edward Island indicate that the species is seen occasionally (Rosemary Curley pers. comm.).

Figure 2. Sightings of Red-necked Phalaropes appearing in the CWS NWT-NU Checklist Database, eBird, and the most current published range information (Ridgely et al. 2007, CWS - PNR 2012). Note that both the northern and southeastern limits of the breeding range were moved north in comparison to earlier maps; consultation with regional experts suggests that the species might still breed along the entire Ontario coast of Hudson Bay and east towards the Quebec/Labrador border (see dashed lines). The breeding range still includes Greenland and Iceland, but these areas are not mapped here. Observations of birds south of the Boreal ecozone during the breeding season are presumably non-breeders.
Map of North and Central America illustrating localities where Red-necked Phalaropes
Long description for Figure 2

Map of North and Central America illustrating localities where Red-necked Phalaropes have been sighted in (a) June to July (breeding season), (b) April to May and August to October (migration period), and (c) November to March (winter). The map is based on data from the Canadian Wildlife Service NWT-NU Checklist Database, eBird, and the most current published range information.

A continuous breeding distribution is shown across the northern reaches of the continent, with breeding observations reported as far west as the Alaska Peninsula and as far east as the Labrador coast. Red-necked Phalaropes breed throughout the Yukon Territory, with a concentration of observations along the coast and on Herschel Island. They are also common throughout the Northwest Territories and eastward through Nunavut, as far north as Victoria Island and southern Baffin Island.

Overwintering takes place in marine habitats at low latitudes, primarily along the Pacific coast. Some wintering birds are sighted irregularly along the Atlantic coasts of Georgia and Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.

Top of Page

Figure 3. The published range throughout the year for Red-necked Phalaropes in the Western Hemisphere (Ridgely et al. 2007, CWS – PNR 2013). Dashed lines show additional areas with evidence of recent breeding. Migration areas denoted on this map are areas of major concentration; small numbers of individuals can occur anywhere in North America during migration (see Fig. 2).
Map of the Americas illustrating the breeding
Long description for Figure 3

Map of the Americas illustrating the breeding, winter, and migration ranges (on land and at sea) of the Red-necked Phalarope based on published reports. Migration areas on this map are areas of major concentration; small numbers of individuals can occur anywhere in North America during migration.

Top of Page

Breeding and transient records are common in the northern territories, although the remoteness and lack of widespread survey coverage limits the number of confirmed occurrences. Red-necked Phalaropes breed throughout the Yukon Territory, with a concentration of observations along the coast and on Herschel Island (Sinclair et al. 2003, Cooley et al. 2012). They are also common throughout the Northwest Territories and eastward through Nunavut, as far north as Victoria Island and southern Baffin Island (Godfrey 1986; see also Fig. 2). Confirmed records from Prince Patrick Island (J. Rausch pers. comm.) may represent birds outside the normal breeding range. A number of observations appear in eBird and other survey databases (i.e., Canadian Wildlife Service, Northwest Territories and Nunavut Checklist Survey databases) from areas north of the previously described breeding range, including Banks Island and Northern Baffin Island. These observations could not be confirmed directly, and the absence of Red Phalaropes from some of these surveys suggests the possibility of identification errors. Although interspecific variation in breeding plumage makes misidentification unlikely, sightings of “fledged young” appearing in these databases might be confused between the two species. Very occasional confirmed records of non-breeding birds in the vicinity of Alert, on northern Ellesmere Island (82°30’N; R.I.G. Morrison pers. comm.) Nunavut, however, demonstrate that the birds do occur in the Canadian High Arctic. Due to confirmed sightings from these latitudes, the described breeding range was extended northwards in the most recent revision of the species’ range map (Fig. 2).

Within the Arctic portion of its range, the species is well captured by the Program for Regional and International Shorebird Monitoring (PRISM) Arctic Surveys. Red-necked Phalaropes are widespread across the Canadian and Alaskan Arctic, occurring in 16 of the 26 regions surveyed (Bart and Smith 2012a). Sightings were made from the Alaska Peninsula to the Queen Maud Gulf Migratory Bird Sanctuary, but notably were lacking from the Canadian Arctic Archipelago despite significant survey coverage in areas considered to be within the breeding range. As such, it is thought that the species is an uncommon to rare breeder in the most northern portion of its range. A direct example of this comes from Coats and Southampton islands in Nunavut. These islands are considered to be well within the species’ range, and are the location of several eBird and Canadian Wildlife Service, Northwest Territories and Nunavut Checklist records (Fig. 2). However, in 15 years of personal experience (by author Paul Smith) working in many locations on these two islands, the species has been sighted only three times (three individuals total).

During southward migration through Canada, Red-necked Phalaropes are most abundant in the lower Bay of Fundy (Fig. 4), where they once numbered up to 3 000 000. Unlike Red Phalaropes that are more abundant off Brier Island on the Nova Scotia side of the bay, Red-necked Phalaropes are more common along the New Brunswick coast, in the channels south and east of Deer Island, the ledges south of Grand Manan, and along adjacent northeastern Maine (Brown and Gaskin 1988). Although once very numerous, the species declined throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and by the 1990s sightings were rare in some previously important stopover locations (Duncan 1995; see below). Large numbers of phalaropes can still be seen between Grand Manan and Brier Island, but the passage population is greatly reduced from its former abundance (R. Hunnewell and A. Diamond, unpub).

Figure 4. Bay of Fundy with locations of Deer, Campobello, Grand Manan and Brier islands (Duncan et al. 2001 as cited in Brown et al. 2010).
Map showing the locations of Deer, Campobello, Grand Manan, and Brier islands in the lower Bay of Fundy
Long description for Figure 4

Map showing the locations of Deer, Campobello, Grand Manan, and Brier islands in the lower Bay of Fundy, where Red-necked Phalaropes are abundant during southward migration in Canada. Unlike Red Phalaropes, which are more abundant off Brier Island on the Nova Scotia side of the bay, Red-necked Phalaropes are more common along the New Brunswick coast, in the channels south and east of Deer Island, the ledges south of Grand Manan, and along adjacent northeastern Maine.

Migrants are also very common along the Pacific coast. Birds over-wintering offshore of South America travel north along the Pacific coast, with hundreds of thousands passing through the Gulf of Alaska, Copper River Delta, and Prince William Sound en route to interior Alaska. During migration, flocks numbering in the thousands are not uncommon, with the largest concentrations in the Queen Charlotte Strait, off Cleland Island on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and in the Strait of Juan de Fuca (Campbell et al. 1990).

Migrants also travel inland through the interior of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba (Bent 1962, Godfrey 1986, Campbell et al. 1990). Birds travelling through interior British Columbia are sighted throughout the Peace Lowlands and Okanagan valley (Campbell et al. 1990). Beyersbergen (2009a,b,c) notes phalaropes at several wetlands and lakes in Alberta and Saskatchewan. In Saskatchewan, Last Mountain Lake, Chaplin Lake, the Quill Lakes (with upwards of 45 000 during spring migration), and Crane Lake region are notable stopover sites (Bent 1962, Colwell et al. 1988, Alexander and Gratto-Trevor 1997), and thousands use Chaplin Lake (Beyersbergen and Duncan 2007). Flocks between 20 and 200 individuals are often observed at smaller lakes and large wetlands throughout southern Saskatchewan (CWS 2013 unpub. survey data). Small flocks (i.e., 50-100) pass through Manitoba west of the Red River valley, with larger flocks observed near Oak Hammock Marsh, Hydro Road outside Churchill, and at Winnipeg’s West End Water Pollution Control Centre (Reynolds 2003). In Quebec, the Red-necked Phalarope is a rare fall transient in the Montréal region, St. Lawrence Valley and Plain (Cotter 1996) with a maximum of 700 records in 1978 from the Mingan archipelago on the North side of the Saint Lawrence Gulf (Larivée 2013).

Top of Page

Migrants are also very common along the Pacific coast. Birds over-wintering offshore of South America travel north along the Pacific coast, with hundreds of thousands passing through the Gulf of Alaska, Copper River Delta, and Prince William Sound en route to interior Alaska. During migration, flocks numbering in the thousands are not uncommon, with the largest concentrations in the Queen Charlotte Strait, off Cleland Island on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and in the Strait of Juan de Fuca (Campbell et al. 1990).

Migrants also travel inland through the interior of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba (Bent 1962, Godfrey 1986, Campbell et al. 1990). Birds travelling through interior British Columbia are sighted throughout the Peace Lowlands and Okanagan valley (Campbell et al. 1990). Beyersbergen (2009a,b,c) notes phalaropes at several wetlands and lakes in Alberta and Saskatchewan. In Saskatchewan, Last Mountain Lake, Chaplin Lake, the Quill Lakes (with upwards of 45 000 during spring migration), and Crane Lake region are notable stopover sites (Bent 1962, Colwell et al. 1988, Alexander and Gratto-Trevor 1997), and thousands use Chaplin Lake (Beyersbergen and Duncan 2007). Flocks between 20 and 200 individuals are often observed at smaller lakes and large wetlands throughout southern Saskatchewan (CWS 2013 unpub. survey data). Small flocks (i.e., 50-100) pass through Manitoba west of the Red River valley, with larger flocks observed near Oak Hammock Marsh, Hydro Road outside Churchill, and at Winnipeg’s West End Water Pollution Control Centre (Reynolds 2003). In Quebec, the Red-necked Phalarope is a rare fall transient in the Montréal region, St. Lawrence Valley and Plain (Cotter 1996) with a maximum of 700 records in 1978 from the Mingan archipelago on the North side of the Saint Lawrence Gulf (Larivée 2013).

Extent of Occurrence and Area of Occupancy

Vast areas of this species’ range are poorly monitored, if they have been surveyed at all. Consequently, quantitative estimates of the extent of occurrence (EO) and index of area of occupancy (IAO) are difficult to determine for this species and offer little information except to demonstrate that the species is widespread across a large Canadian range.

The EO in terrestrial habitats during the breeding season (June and July) based on the Minimum Convex Polygon of sightings appearing in the eBird and Checklist databases is roughly 8 695 459 km² (clipped to terrestrial habitats only, area calculated using an Albers Equal Area Projection). The EO clearly overestimates the breeding distribution because many sightings (of presumably non-breeding birds) are well south of the documented breeding range. The IAO for a grid of 2 km x 2 km cells cannot be calculated because precise locations for where birds are breeding are unknown. However, given the population size and distribution, the IAO will be greater than 2000 km2.

The earlier range map (Ridgely et al. 2003) is thought to be a more accurate depiction of the species’ regular breeding range than the updated version (Ridgely et al. 2007); the latter was expanded northwards into areas where the species is sparsely distributed at best. Based on the earlier map, 74% of the North American breeding range lies within Canada (4 053 666 km² of 5 476 430 km²).

The species is widespread across Northern Europe and Asia, but because of significant uncertainty in the exact boundaries of the range, and also relative densities across the range, the percentage of global range in Canada is not a useful metric. Based on best available estimates of population size, 2 500 000 Red-necked Phalaropes breed in North America (Andres et al. 2012), out of a global population of 3 600 000 to 4 500 000 (Wetlands International 2014). If 74% of the North American birds breed in Canada, this equates to 41 to 51% of the global population breeding in Canada. The true fraction of North American birds breeding in Canada is probably lower, based on higher relative densities observed in Alaska versus Canada (see below).

Search Effort

Numerous observations of the species have been recorded across Canada (e.g., Fig. 2), but the coverage is far from exhaustive. The species is adequately surveyed in Arctic Canada, where it is well-captured by the Arctic surveys of the PRISM (Bart and Smith 2012b). These surveys, scheduled to achieve complete coverage of the Canadian Arctic by 2020, will provide a clearer understanding of the species’ abundance in the northern extent of the breeding range. However, more than half of the species’ breeding range lies south of Arctic areas, and survey coverage throughout this portion of the breeding range is sparse. In particular, few data are available from sub-Arctic Québec (with the exception of surveys along the Northwestern Ungava Peninsula, Andres 2006; and opportunistic surveys from the EPOQ database) and from the taiga habitats of the Northwest Territories, Yukon Territory, and Nunavut. Due to the low coverage in these areas, it is not possible to evaluate any changes or trends in distribution.

The marine range in Canadian waters during the non-breeding season is also poorly documented. Dedicated surveys have been limited to a small number of areas, especially the Bay of Fundy. Survey data from elsewhere during the migration period are sparse. Indeed, even within the Bay of Fundy, some uncertainty remains as to the current distribution and habitat use of the species. However, while limited search effort means that the distribution is not known with great resolution, it is evident that the species is widespread in Canada.

Top of Page


Habitat

Habitat Requirements

Breeding

Red-necked Phalaropes breed in Arctic and sub-Arctic wetlands or in vegetation near other sources of freshwater, such as lakes, pools or small streams (Höhn 1968a, Reynolds 1987, Gratto-Trevor 1996, Rubega et al. 2000, Walpole et al. 2008a,b). Birds settle on home ranges dominated by grasses and sedges, emergent aquatic vegetation, and open freshwater, while avoiding areas of bare ground (i.e., mud) and dense shrub (Walpole et al. 2008b).

Nests consist of a simple scrape (Rubega et al. 2000) and are constructed by creating a shallow depression in the ground and pulling vegetation overhead for enhanced concealment from above. Nests are usually located in tufts of grass and/or sedge (Höhn 1968a, Rodrigues 1994, Gratto-Trevor 1996, Walpole et al. 2008b), and sometimes sparse shrubs (Reynolds 1987). As with home ranges, there appears to be a preference for nest sites dominated by grasses and sedges over areas dominated by shrubs (Rodrigues 1994, Walpole et al. 2008b).

Red-necked Phalaropes exhibit a strong affinity for water. Most foraging (Lipske 1998, Rubega et al. 2000, Walpole et al.2008a) and social interactions (Höhn 1968a,1971, Rodrigues 1994, Walpole et al. 2008a) take place in aquatic habitats. Aquatic habitats are also crucial for chicks that must undergo rapid weight gain in preparation for fall migration. Pond use may not be linked to environmental features, but is more likely driven by the presence of other phalaropes (Walpole et al. 2008a). Although, food availability and other habitat characteristics could play a larger role in habitat use where certain features are limiting. For instance, other reports indicate that Red-necked Phalaropes aggregate on ponds during midge emergence (Rubega et al. 2000).

Studies of habitat use by chicks are lacking. Chicks are not capable of sustained flight until approximately 22 days (Rubega et al. 2000). As such, chicks are highly dependent on the area immediately surrounding nesting sites for concealment and shelter (e.g., graminoid wetlands), and prey (i.e., freshwater wetlands, ponds, and lakes).

Migration and Over-wintering

During migration, Red-necked Phalaropes are primarily pelagic, but may also stop over on inland wetlands or other non-riverine water bodies. Observations of stopover sites include estuaries, salt marshes, bays, inlets, pools, ponds, lakes, ditches, irrigated rice fields, intertidal lagoons, sewage and evaporation ponds (Rubega et al. 2000), sandy shores, and prairie sloughs (Salt and Wilk 1958). A small number of individuals over-winter inland, at evaporation ponds in southern California (Garrett and Dunn 1981). Some hypersaline habitats seem important to migrants such as Great Salt Lake Utah and Mono Lake, California. For example, up to 240 000 individuals stop annually at the Great Salt Lake, Utah (Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network 2009). This use of salt lakes is likely driven by the abundance of aquatic prey typical of these sites (Rubega et al. 2000).

In offshore areas, congregations occur where there are aggregations of prey, mostly along fronts, upwellings, and near the edge of pack ice (Orr et al.1982). In the lower Bay of Fundy, Red-necked Phalaropes are concentrated along “streaks”; areas of calm caused by upwelling and sinking (Brown and Gaskin 1988). Streaks are formed by tidally induced upwellings that concentrate swarms of zooplankton, specifically Calanus finmarchicus, near the surface. The density of surface prey is particularly important for staging Red-necked Phalaropes, as the greatest densities of foraging birds coincide with areas where C. finmarchicusis most abundant within the top 20 cm of the water column. Without the upwellings, C. finmarchicuswould remain at depth during the day, only migrating towards the surface at night (Brown and Gaskin 1988).

Elsewhere in the non-breeding range, Red-necked Phalaropes are often found at marine convergences. However, not all areas of convergence and upwelling are used equally by phalaropes. Food quality and quantity likely play a role in their habitat selection at sea (Brown and Gaskin 1988). Research conducted along the continental shelf of the southeastern United States indicates a particular attraction to the shoreward edge of middle shelf (20 to 40 m depth) habitat during winter months (Haney 1985). The middle shelf is likely favoured because wind stress and tidal stirring force prey (e.g., copepods) to the surface, making these areas particularly productive for foraging (Haney 1985). Haney (1985) also suggests that there is a correlation between temperature gradient and the presence of phalaropes along the middle shelf.

There is evidence of Red-necked Phalaropes being attracted to mats of floating algae (Sargassum spp.), which likely provide an abundance of prey (South Atlantic Bight, Haney 1986; coast of Southern California, Moser and Lee 2012). In fact, Moser and Lee (2012) suggest that Red-necked Phalaropes are Sargassum specialists from mid-April until early June, and again from mid-July until October. This relationship is likely not limited to California; mats of aquatic vegetation may also be important foraging areas for birds in the Bay of Fundy (Brown and Gaskin 1988), and kelp beds are used for foraging in waters off the coast of British Columbia (Campbell et al. 1990).

During migration, Red-necked Phalaropes are primarily pelagic, but may also stop over on inland wetlands or other non-riverine water bodies. Observations of stopover sites include estuaries, salt marshes, bays, inlets, pools, ponds, lakes, ditches, irrigated rice fields, intertidal lagoons, sewage and evaporation ponds (Rubega et al. 2000), sandy shores, and prairie sloughs (Salt and Wilk 1958). A small number of individuals over-winter inland, at evaporation ponds in southern California (Garrett and Dunn 1981). Some hypersaline habitats seem important to migrants such as Great Salt Lake Utah and Mono Lake, California. For example, up to 240 000 individuals stop annually at the Great Salt Lake, Utah (Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network 2009). This use of salt lakes is likely driven by the abundance of aquatic prey typical of these sites (Rubega et al. 2000).

In offshore areas, congregations occur where there are aggregations of prey, mostly along fronts, upwellings, and near the edge of pack ice (Orr et al.1982). In the lower Bay of Fundy, Red-necked Phalaropes are concentrated along “streaks”; areas of calm caused by upwelling and sinking (Brown and Gaskin 1988). Streaks are formed by tidally induced upwellings that concentrate swarms of zooplankton, specifically Calanus finmarchicus, near the surface. The density of surface prey is particularly important for staging Red-necked Phalaropes, as the greatest densities of foraging birds coincide with areas where C. finmarchicusis most abundant within the top 20 cm of the water column. Without the upwellings, C. finmarchicuswould remain at depth during the day, only migrating towards the surface at night (Brown and Gaskin 1988).

Elsewhere in the non-breeding range, Red-necked Phalaropes are often found at marine convergences. However, not all areas of convergence and upwelling are used equally by phalaropes. Food quality and quantity likely play a role in their habitat selection at sea (Brown and Gaskin 1988). Research conducted along the continental shelf of the southeastern United States indicates a particular attraction to the shoreward edge of middle shelf (20 to 40 m depth) habitat during winter months (Haney 1985). The middle shelf is likely favoured because wind stress and tidal stirring force prey (e.g., copepods) to the surface, making these areas particularly productive for foraging (Haney 1985). Haney (1985) also suggests that there is a correlation between temperature gradient and the presence of phalaropes along the middle shelf.

There is evidence of Red-necked Phalaropes being attracted to mats of floating algae (Sargassum spp.), which likely provide an abundance of prey (South Atlantic Bight, Haney 1986; coast of Southern California, Moser and Lee 2012). In fact, Moser and Lee (2012) suggest that Red-necked Phalaropes are Sargassum specialists from mid-April until early June, and again from mid-July until October. This relationship is likely not limited to California; mats of aquatic vegetation may also be important foraging areas for birds in the Bay of Fundy (Brown and Gaskin 1988), and kelp beds are used for foraging in waters off the coast of British Columbia (Campbell et al. 1990).

Little information is available on staging areas used before migration. Post-breeding Red-necked Phalaropes staging in Alaska’s North Slope use pond edge and gravel beach habitat in equal proportions, while avoiding mudflats and salt marshes (Powell et al. 2010).

Habitat Trends

Red-necked Phalaropes will be affected by climate and habitat change. While patterns vary at the regional scale, the general increase in global temperature observed since about 1880 has been and will continue to be most extreme at high latitudes (e.g., Serreze et al. 2000). Already, observations of freshwater lakes indicate that many are shrinking, drying earlier in the season, or disappearing altogether (Siberia, Smith et al. 2005; sub-Arctic Alaska, Riordan et al. 2006). The shallow wetlands preferred by phalaropes are susceptible to small changes in water levels, and could be lost as permafrost recedes with rising temperatures (ACIA 2005).

Alongside changes to freshwater lakes and wetlands, many researchers predict a northward shift in the tree line (e.g., Serreze et al. 2000 and references therein, ACIA 2005) and expansion of shrub habitat into northern latitudes (e.g., Chapin et al.1995, Sturm et al. 2001, Myers-Smith et al. 2011). To date, the shrub line is not only advancing, but sparse shrubs are experiencing improved growth and infilling resulting in denser and larger areas of shrubby habitat (Myers-Smith et al. 2011). In some areas of the Alaskan Arctic, shrub cover has already increased as much as twofold (e.g., 10% to 20%; Sturm et al. 2001). The conversion of grass-sedge wetland into habitats dominated by shrubs or even trees would result in a reduction in the total amount of available Red-necked Phalarope breeding habitats.

Similarly, significant amounts of habitat could be lost to inundation by seawater. Thawing of perennial sea ice, coupled with the melting of glaciers, is predicted to result in rising sea levels, and flooding of substantial areas of low-lying coastal tundra. In 2012, sea ice cover in the Arctic reached an all-time low of 3 410 000- million km2, approximately half the average coverage reported from 1979 to 2000 (Perovich et al. 2012). Concurrent with melting sea ice, models project increasing intensity and severity of storm surges, and these surges can push sea water well inland. In the short term, even minor flooding can lead to widespread reproductive failure (as was observed by author Bree Walpole at the Mackenzie Delta in 2006). In the longer term, this salinization can adversely affect habitats.

Overabundant geese, especially the midcontinent Lesser Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens caerulescens) and to a lesser extent the Ross’s Goose (C. rossii), are agents of profound habitat change in some parts of the northern breeding grounds of the Red-necked Phalarope. Through repeated overgrazing of graminoid forage plants and grubbing of the below-ground parts, geese are fostering a shift towards habitats with more exposed substrate and reduced vegetative concealment (Henry and Jefferies 2008, Abraham et al. 2012). This habitat alteration should be detrimental to shorebirds by, for example, reducing the vegetative concealment of nests, but studies have shown mixed effects (Sammler et al. 2008, Latour et al.2010). Comprehensive studies to evaluate the impacts are lacking. In an area of Wapusk National Park, Manitoba that has been impacted by geese, Rockwell et al. (2009) note that Red-necked Phalarope pair density has declined from more than 90 nests/2 km2 (Reynolds 1987) to less than 1 nest annually since 1995. Within the range of the Red-necked Phalarope, habitat degradation caused by geese is known to be pronounced along the west coasts of Hudson and James bays, in the Queen Maud Gulf Migratory Bird Sanctuary, and across much of Southampton Island.

Habitat alteration caused by development in the North could also contribute to a decrease in suitable habitat. Albeit at a smaller scale, the cumulative impact of various local perturbations to habitat could have substantial consequences, particularly in the face of the landscape-scale habitat trends discussed above.

With migratory and over-wintering habitat encompassing such a large expanse, it is challenging to predict how habitat availability and quality will change over time. The threats discussed below provide some insight on potential impacts to these areas.

Top of Page


Biology

Aside from accounts of natural history, most research on phalaropes has focused on aspects of sex-role reversal and polyandry (e.g., Schamel and Tracy 1977, Colwell 1986, Reynolds 1987, Whitfield 1990, 1995, Dale et al. 1999, Schamel et al.2004a,b). The majority of information below has been compiled from research conducted by Otto Höhn, Douglas Schamel, and Diane Tracy in Alaska, Cheri Gratto-Trevor and John Reynolds in Manitoba, and Olavi Hildén and Seppo Vuolanto in Finland. Information on Red-necked Phalarope migration along the east coast of the Americas is summarized from research by Francine Mercier, John Chardine, Robin Hunnewell, and Tony Diamond. The Red-necked Phalarope account in the Birds of North America (Rubega et al. 2000) provides useful information on the species.

Life Cycle and Reproduction

Breeding

Males and females both nest as early as their first year (Hildén and Vuolanto 1972, Reynolds 1987, Schamel and Tracy 1991). Similar to other species of phalaropes, females may precede males to the breeding grounds (Höhn 1968a, Reynolds et al. 1986, Whitfield 1990, 1995). Although arrival dates vary by location and year, arrival typically spans mid-May to early June throughout much of the breeding range (e.g., Höhn 1968a,b,1971, Hildén and Vuolanto 1972, Reynolds et al. 1986, Meltofte 2006).

Females initiate the selection of suitable nesting sites, which takes place about a week before laying (Rubega et al. 2000). Unlike most other shorebirds, Red-necked Phalaropes do not defend territories. They do, however, defend their mate (Schamel and Tracy 2003).

Once egg laying begins, males complete nest construction by rearranging surrounding vegetation to provide concealment from above (Rubega et al. 2000). Laying of the entire clutch of 4 eggs is usually completed within 4 days (Rubega et al. 2000). Although males will re-nest following predation early in the season, sequential nesting following a successful clutch is not possible due to the short breeding season. Females, on the other hand, are sequentially polyandrous, and seek other mates and lay additional clutches where possible. Schamel et al. (2004b) note that males typically have full paternity of their first clutch, but extra-pair young are present in 50% of replacement clutches (Schamel et al. 2004b).

Females do not provide parental care. Regular incubation by males is initiated once the clutch is nearly complete (Hildén and Vuolanto 1972, Reynolds 1987) and is carried out until hatch, at about 18 days (Rubega et al.2000). Nest success varies by site and year. For example, success rates of 18% (Höhn 1968a), 59% (Walpole et al. 2008b), and 38% to 76% (Reynolds 1987) have been reported. In 2006, virtually all nests at a site in the Mackenzie River Delta failed due to a combination of predation (46%) and flooding caused by a storm (40%; Walpole et al. 2008b).

Chicks are precocial and generally leave the nest within a day of hatching (Rubega et al. 2000). During this time, the male continues to brood and rarely travels farther than 10 m from his chicks (Rubega et al. 2000). Family groups (male and chicks) tend to congregate at favoured ponds where prey is abundant before migration (Hildén and Vuolanto 1972). Birds leave the breeding grounds sequentially with females, non-breeding males, and males with failed nests leaving first, followed by the remaining adult males, and then juveniles at approximately 30 to 35 days of age (Reynolds 1987).

The diet of Red-necked Phalaropes early in the breeding season is unknown, but closely related Red Phalaropes have been observed foraging exclusively on spiders before snowmelt (Danks 1971). During breeding, Red-necked Phalaropes feed primarily on larval flies and fly eggs, beetles, and spiders (Baker 1977). Specifically, study of the stomach contents from 24 birds confirmed the presence of Diptera (eggs, Chironomidae larvae and adults, Tipulidae larvae and adults, and Psychodidae larvae), Coleoptera (Chrysomelidae adults, and Dytiscidae larvae and adults) and unidentified spiders (Baker 1977).

Red-necked Phalaropes are visual foragers, plucking prey from the water as they ramble or spin. Although the majority of feeding takes place on the water, birds also pick invertebrates from emergent and shoreline vegetation, or snap flying insects during emergence (B. Walpole pers. obs.).

Migration and Over-wintering

Comparatively little information is available on the biology of phalaropes that have left the breeding grounds. Non-breeding Red-necked Phalaropes feed exclusively on small, marine or freshwater aquatic invertebrates. In the Quoddy region of the Bay of Fundy, Mercier and Gaskin (1985) note that flocks of 5 000 to 20 000/km2 (numbering between 100 and 100 000 individuals) fed almost exclusively (88.6%) on C. finmarchicus, the most common zooplankton in the area. Remaining prey included smaller copepods, seeds, and insects, with the largest prey reaching a size of 6 mm.

In Santa Monica Bay, California, birds typically congregate along linear oceanic features (i.e., streaks) where prey is abundant. Through an analysis of the gut contents of three individuals, DiGiacomo et al.(2002) noted the importance of fish eggs as prey, concluding that Red-necked Phalaropes are opportunistic, and will forage on any prey of an appropriate size that is available in high concentrations.

Mortality is probably highest during migration, but is also not uncommon during the rest of the year, as a result of harsh conditions associated with over-wintering at sea and breeding in the far north. Longevity of the species is unknown, although may be 10 years (Rubega et al. 2000, Schamel and Tracy 2003). Survival rates are likely comparable to those of other shorebirds. Assuming age at first breeding is 1 year, adult survival of 75% and juvenile survival of 60% (plausible values, similar to those of other shorebirds; Sandercock 2003), generation time is on the order of 4 years.

Physiology and Adaptability

Information on physiological requirements, including nutrition, energetics, metabolism, and temperature regulation is largely lacking. Staging Red-necked Phalaropes in the Quoddy region, New Brunswick accumulated fat stores at a rate of about 1 g/day for up to 20 days (Mercier 1985). In this region, birds primarily prey on C. finmarchicus. In total, Mercier (1985) measured maximum fat stores of 40 to 45% of fresh weight. Based on these measures, Mercier (1985) has calculated a non-stop migratory distance of 5 100 km, a distance that exceeds that for most other shorebirds breeding in the sub-Arctic.

Dispersal and Migration

Red-necked Phalaropes are long-distance migrants, travelling 6 000 km from tropical over-wintering sites to Arctic and sub-Arctic breeding grounds. During spring migration, Red-necked Phalaropes arrive in the southwest Davis Strait area in early June, and passage is complete by the middle of the month, consistent with observations in the Hudson Strait (Orr et al. 1982). Arrival of post-breeding birds on Alaska’s North Slope occurs in early to mid-August, with the number of staging adults peaking up to 12 days before the arrival of juveniles (Powell et al. 2010). Patterns in autumn arrival at staging areas in the Quoddy region, Bay of Fundy, reflect observations on the breeding grounds, with females arriving first (mid-July to early August), followed by males (mid- to late August), and juveniles (early to mid-September; Mercier 1985).

Although the length of stay at staging areas varies, it is likely similar to that observed for other shorebirds. Hunnewell and Diamond (unpub.) estimated length of stay for a sample of 27 radio-tagged Red and Red-necked Phalaropes near Brier Island as 15.2 ± 1.9 days. Mercier (1985) proposed an average stopover of 20 days in the Quoddy region based on the need to build fat as a percentage of fresh weight from 10% to 40%.

Observed measures of fat as a percentage of fresh weight of 40% is indicative of nonstop migration (Odum and Connell 1956 as cited in Mercier 1985). Although this suggests that Red-necked Phalaropes fly directly from northern stopover sites to over-wintering sites, it seems unlikely they travel all the way to the coast of Peru without replenishing fat reserves (Mercier 1985).

Exactly where birds stop en route to the coast of Peru is unknown as observations of Red-necked Phalaropes at more southern stopover sites in the fall are lacking. A likely suggestion is that birds fly directly to Panama and then make shorter flights along the productive northwest coast of South America (Mercier 1985). This would suggest a nonstop distance of 4 300 km (Mercier 1985). Another theory is that birds stopping over in eastern Canada winter elsewhere, although there are no known wintering areas in the Atlantic (Duncan 1996). Data from a recent study that used a geolocator to track the migratory route of a Red-necked Phalarope breeding in Scotland supports the former theory. The tagged individual migrated across the Atlantic where it presumably joined the Canadian-breeding Red-necked Phalaropes, and then continued its southern migration down the east coast to Florida before crossing the Gulf of Mexico into the Pacific Ocean. It is speculated that the bird moved inland for several days on two occasions to avoid unfavourable weather (Smith et al.2014). Aside from Mercier (1985), few other studies have examined Red-necked Phalarope migration, although observations suggest that birds also migrate inland and along the west coast of North America, where some birds stage at Mono Lake and off the coast of California.

Aside from observations of return rates at specific breeding sites, little is known about Red-necked Phalarope dispersal. The highest site fidelity reported for phalaropes is from a breeding site for Red Phalaropes in northeast Iceland, where 100% of a small sample of banded males (n = 4) returned to the same area in consecutive years (Whitfield 1995). Return rates for adults do not appear to be strongly sex-biased. Estimates of Red-necked Phalarope fidelity to Cape Espenberg, Alaska, was 56% (males; n=99), and 61% (females; n=41; Schamel and Tracy 1991). Although, overall, fidelity was lower, the lack of a sex-bias is consistent with observations at La Perouse Bay, Manitoba (38% males [n=177] and 34% females [n=84] returned in subsequent years; Reynolds and Cooke 1988). Erckmann (1981) and Sandercock (1997) provide examples of lower rates of adult philoptary (0 to 17%). Variability in return rates may indicate a difference in fidelity across the species’ range, or may be an artefact of differing sampling methodology. Interestingly, natal philopatry appears to be male-biased. At the same sites, Schamel and Tracy (1991) calculated natal return rates of 17% (male; n=161.5) and 2% (female; n=161.5), based on a 50:50 sex-ratio, and Colwell et al.(1988) observed 8% (male; n=23) and 2% (female; n=5) natal return rates. Reynolds and Cooke (1988) found over a 5-year period that 23 males and 5 females returned out of 555 chicks banded.

Interspecific Interactions

Hildén and Vuolanto (1972) speculate that Red-necked Phalaropes have a breeding association with Arctic Terns (Sterna paradisaea). Although the observation that Red-necked Phalarope nests were frequently located within Arctic Tern colonies may be a consequence of shared habitat preference, some behavioural observations suggest it is more likely an anti-predator defence strategy (Hildén and Vuolanto 1972).

Nest predators include Arctic Fox (Vulpes lagopus), Red Fox (V. vulpes), Short-tailed Weasel (Mustela erminea), Arctic Ground Squirrel (Citellus parryi), Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus), Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus), and Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis; Rubega et al.2000). Red-necked Phalaropes have a loose association with other shorebirds that share breeding sites. Some of the most notable species include the American Golden-plover (Pluvialis dominica), Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus), Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla), Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla) and Red Phalarope (Höhn 1959, Schamel and Tracy 1991, Latour et al. 2005, Andres 2006). In the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge of Alaska, post-breeding Red-necked Phalaropes aggregate with Semipalmated Sandpipers, Black-bellied Plovers (Pluvialis squatarola), Dunlin (Calidris alpina), Stilt Sandpipers (Calidris himantopus), and Pectoral Sandpipers (Calidris melanotos) in coastal mudflats (Brown et al. 2012). Along Alaska’s North Slope, post-breeding Red-necked Phalaropes share pre-migratory staging sites with Semipalmated Sandpipers and Dunlin (Powell et al. 2010). At migratory stopover sites (e.g., Bay of Fundy), they commonly associate with Red Phalaropes, although preferred habitats may differ slightly (see above).

Red-necked Phalaropes may be weakly associated with other marine animals that stir zooplankton towards the surface. Accounts of associations with whales, Long-tailed Ducks (Clangula hyemalis; Schamel and Tracy 2003), and schools of fish (Bent 1962) have been documented. Predators of adults are likely similar to that of other small, pelagic shorebirds. Observed predators include Pomarine Jaeger (Stercorarius pomarinus), Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus), and Common Dolphin (Coryphaena hippurus; Rubega et al. 2000).

Top of Page


Population Sizes and Trends

Sampling Effort and Methods

Population size and status are difficult to monitor for this species because it uses remote and inaccessible breeding habitats and winters at sea. Consequently, phalaropes stand out as especially poorly monitored, even among shorebirds that as a group are generally under-monitored. Although targeted monitoring in the Bay of Fundy offers information for Red-necked Phalaropes, it deals with only a fraction of the Canadian breeding population. A small number of individuals are surveyed by migration monitoring programs such as the International Shorebird Survey, Atlantic Canada Shorebird Survey, and citizen science efforts, such as the Christmas Bird Count, but these surveys only count a fraction of the population and favour inland or nearshore habitats. Information collected on breeding birds through the PRISM surveys is more precise, but only captures the northernmost portion of the range.

Abundance

The most current estimate of the breeding population in North America is 2 500 000 (Andres et al. 2012). This estimate was first proposed by Morrison et al. (2001) and was carried over through revisions (Morrison et al.2006, Andres et al. 2012) as survey data were too incomplete to provide additional information for revising the previous estimate. The estimate was derived by summing the estimated numbers at known key stopover sites, especially the outer Bay of Fundy and Great Salt Lake (Morrison et al. 2001). Consequently, the confidence assigned to this estimate is low and it is likely to be an underestimate as migration routes are incompletely known, so some unknown fraction of the population would not be included in this sum. With 74% of the Western Hemisphere range occurring in Canada, and assuming that breeding densities are consistent across the range, the Canadian estimate is roughly 1 850 000.

Although large declines had been observed in the outer Bay of Fundy, there was significant uncertainty as to whether this reflected true population change or redistribution (Morrison et al. 2001, 2006). It now seems likely that the number of individuals passing through the outer Bay of Fundy has declined more than can be explained on the basis of redistribution to known staging areas (R. Hunnewell and A. Diamond unpub.; see below), but the possibility remains that individuals are bypassing the Bay of Fundy region entirely in favour of other, unknown staging areas.

The PRISM surveys from the Arctic breeding grounds provide valuable additional information about population size. The surveys have not yet covered the whole of the Arctic, but for the portions surveyed to date, the population was estimated at 927 000 with a coefficient of variation of 0.17 (Bart and Smith 2012a). Perhaps half of the suitable habitat for the species in the Arctic has not yet been surveyed, and more than half of the breeding range falls outside Arctic areas, although densities are likely lower there. In the areas surveyed, Red-necked Phalarope was the fifth most abundant shorebird overall, and the sixth most abundant in Canada after Red Phalarope, Semipalmated Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis), Dunlin and Pectoral Sandpiper. Densities were highest in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta of Alaska (64 birds per km²) and were generally higher in Alaska than in Canada. Many regions in Alaska had breeding densities in excess of 10 birds/km² in suitable habitats, and similarly high densities were observed in the eastern Queen Maud Gulf Migratory Bird Sanctuary, the Yukon North Slope and throughout the Mackenzie Delta (Bart and Smith 2012a).

Fluctuations and Trends

Migration

Migration monitoring programs provide some information about trends in the species’ abundance, but only for those individuals migrating inland or close to shore. Bart et al. (2007) report significant declines in Midwest North America between 1974 and 1998 (22 sites, trend = -8% / year, pamp;lt;0.05), and no significant trend in the North Atlantic (11 sites, trend = +1% / year, p>0.05). Smith et al. (unpub.) reanalyzed a similar dataset, including sites in both Canada and the United States from 1974 to 2009 using an Estimating Equations approach. Because the species is uncommon, the estimated trend across all regions was highly imprecise (95% CI= -25.4%/year to +22%/year, n = 65 sites). In the Pacific and Intermountain Region, the location of 665 000 of the circa 680 000 records in the database, the trend was also imprecise but tended towards positive (point estimate +18.5%/year, 95% CI=-9.9%/year to +55.9%/year). These imprecise trend estimates, capturing only a small fraction of the population, offer little insight into population status.

Targeted surveys in the outer Bay of Fundy offer more reliable information, albeit for a restricted area. Millions once passed through the area, with estimates of up to 3 000 000 at Passamaquoddy Bay in the 1970s (Finch et al. 1978). By 1990, they had largely disappeared from the area (Duncan 1996). At an important stopover site off the shores of Brier Island, Nova Scotia, mixed flocks of Red Phalaropes and Red-necked Phalaropes numbering 20 000 and 10 000 were recorded during fall migration in 1990 and 1996, respectively (Birdlife International 2012a).

While the species is still present in some abundance in the Bay of Fundy, numbers appear to be much lower than in the 1970s and 1980s, and it does not seem to be the case that these declines represent a redistribution to new stopover locations in their entirety. From the most recent surveys (2009-2010), covering 1 600 km2 of the Outer Bay of Fundy between Brier Island, Nova Scotia and Grand Manan, New Brunswick, Hunnewell and Diamond (unpub.) conclude:

“Results from aerial line transect surveys conducted in this study suggest the disproportionate reduction in numbers of Red-necked Phalaropes (P. lobatus) from a migratory stopover in w. Bay of Fundy during the late 1980’s does not represent a wholesale shift in numbers to a stopover currently used in the outer Bay of Fundy. Based on historical estimates, total stopover population size at Head Harbour Passage during July-September passage ranged from 1-2 million migrants of P. lobatus, with daily abundances of up to 5,000-20,000 birds/km² (Mercier and Gaskin 1985). By contrast, highest daily abundances comprising both species of phalarope evaluated for this study occurred in 2010, with estimated densities of up to 539 birds/km² [± SE of 156 birds/km2] on Sept 23rd and 559 birds/km² [± 149] on Aug 30th in Brier and Grand Manan, respectively.”

Hunnewell and Diamond (pers. comm.) used ground counts to estimate proportions of Red versus Red-necked Phalaropes, radio tags to estimate length of stay, and distance methods to estimate detection during aerial surveys. Their estimate of the stopover population size of Red-necked Phalaropes, for the region between Brier Island and Grand Manan, was at most approximately 550 000. Although methods differed between this study and earlier studies, this number is significantly lower than what was previously observed at the key stopover locations in Passamaquoddy Bay/Head Harbour Passage. However, it should be noted that these declines had occurred by the late 1980s. The trend for the last three generations (i.e., since about 2001) is not known with any certainty, but is not likely as substantial a decline as that observed between the 1970s and 1990s.

Breeding

Few data are available to describe trends occurring on the breeding grounds. Regular monitoring in remote locations and across such a large area is challenging, although published literature provides some indications that the species may have declined in abundance. Jehl and Lin (2001) noted a “great decrease” in the number of nesting Red-necked Phalaropes from the 1930s to the 1990s in the area surrounding Churchill, Manitoba, with no clear trend since this time (E. Nol pers. comm.). Also in Manitoba, Gratto-Trevor (1994a) reported a decline from 46 males observed at Mast River Delta, La Perouse Bay, in 1985 to five in 1993. Rockwell et al. (2009) report drastic (99%) declines in pair density since the 1980s in areas impacted by over-abundant goose populations. Regular monitoring on Herschel Island, Yukon, indicates a pronounced decline throughout the 1990s (Cooley et al. 2012). Although the species was not detected through breeding surveys in the area since 1999 (Cooley et al. 2012), it has been observed as a rare migrant and local breeders are likely not being picked up through surveys due to their rarity (C. Eckert pers. comm.). This is consistent with moderate to severe declines along Yukon’s North Slope (i.e., Shingle Point) as observed by local residents [Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope) and Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee 2003, Cooley et al. 2012]. Nesting and staging birds have almost disappeared from the vicinity of Crow Flats, Yukon Territory, in the last 40 years (D. Mossop pers. comm.). Although these negative trends may represent local phenomena, they appear to be widespread and consistent. This may indicate range-wide declines across the North American breeding range.

In summary, observations from the Bay of Fundy indicate a potentially serious decline in the North American Red-necked Phalarope population from the 1970s through to the 1990s. However, because survey effort is limited, it is possible that some portion of this decline reflects a shift in distribution to unsurveyed areas. Evidence from the breeding grounds is less conclusive, but also indicates the potential for range-wide declines. Thus, it seems most likely that the population has undergone a decline, potentially a substantial decline, in the last 40 or more years, since the 1970s. Information from the breeding grounds and key migratory sites offers little insight into the trend since about 2001 (i.e., the trend over the last three generations).

Rescue Effect

The Red-necked Phalarope has a circumpolar breeding distribution and shows varying degrees of fidelity to breeding sites. This suggests the possibility of rescue of the Canadian population from individuals breeding in Alaska or elsewhere in its circumpolar distribution. However, there are no records on band interchange to demonstrate dispersal of breeding individuals or young.

Top of Page


Threats and Limiting Factors

Threats

The many knowledge gaps relating to the species, particularly regarding adaptability, migration, and over-wintering biology make threat identification challenging. As such, there is much uncertainty in predicting the scope (defined as the proportion of the population expected to be affected within 10 years) and severity (predicted level of damage to the species) of the threats listed below (see also Threat Calculator – Appendix 1).

Breeding

Climate Change

Alterations to habitat as a result of changes in the Arctic climate may be the greatest long-term threat to Red-necked Phalaropes on their breeding grounds. For instance, a change in climate could affect prey availability though (i) abundance, (ii) timing, and/or (iii) composition. As discussed previously, some important habitat changes are already occurring. Shrub encroachment into grass-sedge wetlands would result in a loss of suitable breeding sites, and the disappearance and premature drying of ponds would impact prey abundance for nesting birds and the ability of chicks to forage and obtain the energy necessary to support migration (Gratto-Trevor 1997, although see McKinnon et al. 2013). Not only could birds be affected by a reduction in prey, but changes in climate may also cause a shift in arthropod emergence towards earlier in the year resulting in a mismatch between the annual peak abundance of arthropods and the hatch of shorebird chicks (e.g., Tulp and Schekkerman 2008). Timing of breeding might be constrained by the conditions encountered during migration, for example, and Red-necked Phalaropes may not be able to shift their breeding phenology to adapt to the new timing of arthropod emergence (e.g., Gratto-Trevor 1994b). These mismatch effects are an important mechanism through which climate change might adversely affect reproductive success. However, Red-necked Phalaropes are likely to eat the most abundant aquatic invertebrates available, and so changes in aquatic invertebrate species composition resulting from a changing climate may not have large effects on breeding phalaropes (Gratto-Trevor 1994b).

Without further research, it is unclear whether the negative impacts resulting from a changing climate would outweigh the potential advantages incurred though a lengthened breeding season in a milder Arctic (McKinnon et al. 2013).

Air-borne Pollutants

The Canadian Arctic is linked to the industrialized world through atmospheric and water currents. Many contaminants travel over long distances and become concentrated in the North, despite the fact that it is far removed from point sources (Macdonald et al. 2000, Gamberg et al. 2005). In the Northwest Territories, mercury contamination in freshwater systems is on the rise, with the greatest increases in smaller waterbodies (Northwest Territories Environment and Natural Resources 2012). Hargreaves et al. (2010) found that the levels of mercury in the blood of three species of Arctic-nesting shorebirds; Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) Black-bellied Plover, and Semipalmated Plover were approaching thresholds associated with toxicological effects in other birds. In particular, they found that blood mercury was as much as 10 times higher than that of samples from sites with more direct pollution input. They found a weak negative relationship between mercury and lead levels in tissue and reproductive success, and urged further study (Hargreaves et al. 2010). There is also evidence of DDT and PCBs accumulating in Arctic nesting shorebirds (Braune and Noble 2009). Foraging strategy may be partly responsible for observed variation in contaminant levels detected in a suite of shorebirds, with surface feeders being more at risk than others among the species studied (which did not include Red-necked Phalaropes; Braune and Noble 2009). However, it is unknown to what degree contaminants threaten the species. With Arctic shorebirds spending the majority of their lives south of their breeding grounds, the source of contaminants (i.e., breeding grounds, migratory stopover sites or over-wintering grounds) is also uncertain.

Industrial Activities

Industrial activities, in particular oil and gas exploration and mineral extraction, are becoming increasingly common in the North. Some forms of development, such as mines, airstrips, and outfitter camps effectively remove natural habitat, whereas other forms of development, including exploration activities, such as seismic surveys, can alter the vegetative structure (Ashenhurst and Hannon 2008, Jorgensen et al. 2010). Indirect impacts such as road dust may also impact the species, but no reductions in density were seen in the vicinity of the Ekati Diamond Mine, where effects of dust on habitat have been observed (Smith et al. 2005). Because of the sensitivity of permafrost soils and slow-growing nature of tundra vegetation, seemingly minor impacts to soil and vegetation can persist for decades (e.g., Forbes et al. 2001, Jorgensen et al. 2010). In the Mackenzie Delta, seismic lines have a density of 6 linear km per km2, the greatest anywhere in the Canadian North (Northwest Territories Environment and Natural Resources 2012). Ashenhurst and Hannon (2008) found a non-significant tendency for Red-necked Phalaropes to be less abundant along seismic lines (average 0.27 birds per transect) than along reference lines (average 0.67 birds per transect) in suitable habitat in the Kendall Island Bird Sanctuary, suggesting the possibility of adverse effects of seismic exploration on bird abundance. While habitat removal or degradation can have clear detrimental effects at a local scale, the range-wide effects are unlikely to be pronounced given the limited footprint of development within the range of the species.

Other forms of development may have a null impact on the species, or could even be beneficial. Chaplin Lake, Saskatchewan, is an important stopover site where more than 2 000 Red-necked Phalaropes can be seen in any given year (Beyersbergen and Duncan 2007). Chaplin is a saline lake that is actively mined for sodium sulfate. This activity maintains consistent water levels across years that effectively protects shorebird habitat in a system that is otherwise quite variable (S. Wilson pers. comm.).

Snow Geese

Areas along the southern Hudson Bay and James Bay coasts have been altered by grubbing, grazing, and shoot-pulling by increasing Lesser Snow Goose populations (Abraham et al. 2005). As a result, once densely vegetated sedge meadows have become denuded (Abraham et al. 2005). Gratto-Trevor (1994) commented that the direct impacts of habitat alteration from Snow Geese may have contributed to the declines in Red-necked Phalaropes and Semipalmated Sandpipers nesting at La Perouse Bay, Manitoba. Aside from the loss of suitable nesting sites, the composition of prey (e.g., larval chironomids) and the structure of ponds are also likely impacted by the foraging behaviour of Snow Geese (Milakovic et al. 2001), with potential adverse effects on breeding Red-necked Phalaropes and their young that depend on freshwater ponds to forage.

Migration and Over-wintering

Changes in Prey

Threats to migrating phalaropes at sea have been most studied in relation to the observed declines in the Quoddy region of Atlantic Canada. Duncan (1996) proposed three possible explanations for the decline: (i) response to a crash in prey, (ii) result of perturbations on the breeding grounds and/or over-wintering sites, or (iii) staging populations have not collapsed but have shifted to undetected areas. Chardine’s (2005) study supports Duncan’s first hypothesis, providing evidence of a decline in prey availability. Some possible explanations for the change in prey abundance include: increased disturbance (e.g., rise in shipping traffic), increased consumption of C. finmarchicus by fish (e.g., salmon aquaculture), and/or changes in water quality (e.g., increased levels of pesticide run-off; Duncan 1996, Chardine 2005). Duncan (1996) also speculates that a decrease in the intensity of sunlight reaching the water’s surface, possibly caused by changes in fog, could impact C. finmarchicus. Alternatively, changes in biological or physical oceanography (e.g., changing ocean currents, salinity and temperature due to climate change) and/or changes to C. finmarchicus phenology may make them unavailable to foraging phalaropes (Chardine 2005).

Some new staging areas have been located, and large numbers of Red-necked Phalaropes can still be seen off southern Grand Manan, New Brunswick, and Brier Island, Nova Scotia (R. Hunnewell and A. Diamond, unpub.), as well as the edge of the continental shelf between Labrador and Greenland (R.I.G. Morrison pers. comm.). However, while other staging areas may still remain undiscovered, it seems likely that the numbers of Red-necked Phalaropes passing through the whole of the Bay of Fundy have decreased.

Oil Spills, Chronic Oiling, and Tailing Ponds

Like other birds that spend all or part of their life cycle at sea, Red-necked Phalaropes are vulnerable to oiling. Page and Shuford (2000) argue that oil spills are the primary anthropogenic threat to offshore phalaropes. When exposed to oil, feathers become matted, wet, and lose their insulative value. In an attempt to clean their feathers, birds preen themselves, further spreading and ingesting oil. As such, even a slight exposure to oil can increase mortality risk through hypothermia and organ damage. Furthermore, oil in the environment can indirectly impact birds at sea through contamination of prey (Jenssen 1994).

Red-necked Phalaropes gather in large numbers at sea, with hundreds of thousands aggregating in small areas such as the outer Bay of Fundy (R. Hunnewell and A. Diamond, unpub.). As such, point-source oil contamination from a marine spill could have catastrophic effects on the species. Chronic oiling, caused by minor events such as leakage from boats, runoff from streets and parking lots, and natural seeps, may also be detrimental to phalaropes. Indeed, the cumulative impact of chronic oiling may be similar to that of a small-scale oil spill (Wiese and Robertson 2004, Nevins et al. 2011). Nevins et al. (2011) note that chronic oiling is responsible for as much as 4% of the annual mortality of seabirds in central California. With a sample of 2 out of 57 phalaropes showing signs of oil exposure, Nevins et al. (2011) suggest that phalaropes are among the birds at sea that are most affected by oiling (Nevins et al. 2011). This is likely because they tend to forage in the same areas where oil accumulates; along fronts, in tidal rips and eddies (D. Fraser pers. comm.). In general, minor oiling events (i.e., small oily-discharge) appear to be in decline (Lucas et al. 2009, Wilhelm et al. 2009, O’Hara et al. 2013), although the risk of contamination from oil may remain for Red-necked Phalaropes. Recent findings indicate that there is a relatively high level of hazard from oiling in a portion of the lower Bay of Fundy (Lieske et al. 2014) that encompasses important stopover locations such as the area around Deer, Campobello, Grand Manan and Brier islands.

There may also be indirect impacts of oil spills on Red-necked Phalaropes through alteration of habitat. Moser and Lee (2012) suggest that Sargassum mats, used by foraging Red-necked Phalaropes at sea, can be damaged by oil spills. This could be particularly troubling in areas (e.g., off the coast of California) where Red-necked Phalaropes are considered Sargassum specialists (Moser and Lee 2012).

Oiling may not be limited to birds migrating at sea, but those travelling inland may be susceptible to oiling at tailing ponds, particularly those lacking bird deterrents. Although there is no documentation of Red-necked Phalaropes using tailing ponds, impacts are possible, as has been documented for other species of shorebirds, including Semipalmated Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, and Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca, T. flavipes, respectively) (e.g., Timoney and Ronconi 2010 and references therein). Risks are likely greatest during inclement weather (Ronconi 2006).

Ingestion of Plastics

In the western North Atlantic, Moser and Lee (1992) documented 21 of 38 (55%) sampled seabird species had ingested plastics. Specifically, 12 of 25 (48%) species of charadriiformes showed signs of plastic ingestion, with the percent frequency of occurrence in Red and Red-necked Phalaropes at 69% (N=55) and 19% (N=36) respectively (Moser and Lee 1992). As such, phalaropes appear to be particularly vulnerable. Microplastics (width less than 5 mm) are the largest increasing class of plastics in the marine environment (J. Provencher pers. comm.) and so it is possible that rates of plastic ingestion may be higher today. What we do not know, is whether there are patterns to plastic ingestion or how plastic is impacting phalarope health and survival (e.g., through blockages, starvation and absorption of contaminants; J. Provencher pers. comm.).

Housing and Urban Areas

Rubega et al. (2000) summarize an account of “untold thousands” of Red-necked Phalaropes colliding with brilliantly lit casinos in downtown Reno, NV. Additional accounts include birds attracted to lit stadiums (Daytona Beach FL) and a lighthouse (NY). Reports such as this are rare, with uncertain population-level impacts.

Limiting Factors

Large concentrations of Red-necked Phalaropes staging in relatively small areas make the species vulnerable to local perturbations (e.g., pollution, habitat alteration, introduction of predators, declines in prey). During staging, the aggregations of hundreds of thousands of individuals in locations, such as the outer Bay of Fundy or Great Salt Lake, expose a significant fraction of the population to risks that might otherwise be considered localized. Harsh and unpredictable conditions associated with nesting in northern environments, combined with a short breeding season, with limited opportunities for re-nesting, are also limiting. An example of this was reported by Gratto-Trevor (1994a) from La Perouse Bay, Manitoba, where unusually low nesting success and population declines over 10 years were possibly an artefact of unusually cold weather resulting in delayed snow melt, very cold weather impacting prey availability, and unusually high predation rates caused by low microtine (small mammal) abundance. For single-parent incubators, such as the Red-necked Phalarope, the impacts of extreme weather are particularly severe as nests may be deserted for lengthy periods while the incubator searches for prey (Gratto-Trevor 1994a).

Number of Locations

Determining the number of locations for this species is challenging as the threats to the species are uncertain and the species is widespread across Canada, breeding or migrating through every territory and province. The number of locations is, however, undoubtedly greater than 10.

Top of Page


Protection, Status and Ranks

Legal Protection and Status

The Red-necked Phalarope receives protection under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994. It also receives protection through the Convention on Migratory Species (Appendix II).

Non-Legal Status and Ranks

The Canadian Shorebird Conservation Plan suggests that the Red-necked Phalarope represents a “major conservation concern” due to the near disappearance of staging birds in the Bay of Fundy (Donaldson et al. 2000; this was before the discovery of large numbers of staging birds between Grand Manan and Brier Island). Overall, this plan ranks the species as a moderate conservation concern (Donaldson et al. 2000). The rank of moderate concern is consistent with the United States Shorebird Conservation Plan (Brown et al. 2001), and the Alaska Shorebird Conservation Plan (Alaska Shorebird Group 2008). The Red-necked Phalarope is ranked as a vulnerable breeder (S3B) in the Yukon (Yukon Conservation Data Centre 2012). In British Columbia, the species is included on their Blue List, which highlights species of special concern in the province (S3S4B; B.C. Conservation Data Centre 2013). In Québec, the Red-necked Phalarope has been assessed as apparently secure by NatureServe (S4B; 2013). It has not been designated on the Québec Liste des espèces susceptibles d’être désignées menacées ou vulnérables.

The global and national (Canada and United States) conservation status ranks for Red-necked Phalarope indicate that the species is apparently secure (Rounded Global Status = G4; NatureServe 2013). The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List ranks the species as “least concern” globally (Birdlife International 2012c). NatureServe (2013) indicates the following provincial and territorial conservation status ranksFootnote 1 for Red-necked Phalarope: British Columbia, S3S4B; Labrador, S4B; Manitoba, S4B; New Brunswick, S3M; Newfoundland Island S3S4; Northwest Territories, S3S4B; Nova Scotia, S2S3M, Nunavut, SNRB; Ontario, S3S4B; Prince Edward Island, SNA; Quebec, S4B, S3M; Yukon Territory, S3B.

Habitat Protection and Ownership

In Canada, the Red-necked Phalarope breeds across a vast area, from northern British Columbia in the west to Labrador in the east. The majority of this area is uninhabited and under provincial/territorial, or national management, with the majority of private land relating to land claim agreements. Some protection is afforded to the species through provincial, territorial and national protected areas. For example, 11 Migratory Bird Sanctuaries and four National Wildlife Areas are located within the Red-necked Phalarope breeding range, totalling more than 8 million hectares of protected habitat (Table 1). They are also found in 34 National Parks or National Historic Sites (Table 2; P. Nantel pers. comm.)

Table 1. Summary of Migratory Bird Sanctuaries (MBSs) and National Wildlife Areas (NWA) within the Canadian breeding range of Red-necked Phalarope. The primary purpose of MBSs is the protection of migratory birds from killing, harm, and harassment. There are rules and prohibitions against taking, injuring, and the destruction and molestation of migratory birds, their eggs, and nests within a sanctuary. National Wildlife Areas (NWAs) are created and managed for the purpose of conservation, research and interpretation. Wildlife Area Regulations define activities that are prohibited within NWAs, which may include, but are not limited to, fishing and hunting, damaging plants, damaging and molesting wildlife, eggs, and nests.
ProvinceName of Protected AreaType of Protected
Area
Size (ha)
ONMoose RiverMBS2690
ONHannah BayMBS19119
QUBoatswain BayMBS9616
NUMcConnell RiverMBS36803
NUHarry GibbonsMBS143811
NUEast BayMBS112118
NUDewey SoperMBS816599
NUQueen Maud GulfMBS6292818
NWTCape PerryMBS227
NWTAnderson River DeltaMBS118417
NWTKendall IslandMBS61241
NUAkpaitNWA79146
NUQaqulluitNWA39821
NUNinginganigNWA336397
YTNisutlin River DeltaNWA5483

Top of Page

Table 2. Summary of National Parks and National Historic Sites with documented Red-necked Phalarope occurrences (P. Nantel pers. comm.)
Managed Area Name
Aulavik National Park of Canada
Auyuittuq National Park of Canada
Banff National Park of Canada
Bruce Peninsula National Park of Canada
Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site
Elk Island National Park of Canada
Fathom Five National Marine Park of Canada
Forillon National Park of Canada
Fundy National Park of Canada
Glacier National Park of Canada
Gros Morne National Park of Canada
Ivvavik National Park of Canada
Jasper National Park of Canada
Kluane National Park and Reserve of Canada
Kootenay National Park of Canada
La Mauricie National Park of Canada
Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve of Canada
Nahanni National Park Reserve of Canada
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada
Point Pelee National Park of Canada
Prince Edward Island National Park of Canada
Pukaskwa National Park of Canada
Riding Mountain National Park of Canada
Saguenay-St.Lawrence National Marine Park of Canada
Sirmilik National Park of Canada
St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada
Tuktut Nogait National Park of Canada
Ukkusiksalik National Park of Canada
Wapusk National Park of Canada
Waterton Lakes National Park of Canada
Wood Buffalo National Park of Canada
Yoho National Park of Canada

Red-necked Phalarope staging areas are primarily pelagic, while over-wintering occurs entirely at sea. Until recently, the Quoddy region of the Bay of Fundy was inarguably the largest stopover site for migrating Red-necked Phalaropes in Canada. This area is recognized as a Canadian Important Bird Area, meaning that the site is of international importance for its significance to bird conservation and biodiversity (Birdlife International 2012b). The saline Mono Lake in California is another important staging area for the species. The area surrounding Mono Lake was designated a protected area in 1972 (Mono Basin National Scenic Area). Another important stopover site, Great Salt Lake in Utah, is also protected largely by the state, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Nature Conservancy.


Acknowledgements and Authorities Contacted

The report writers would like to acknowledge the following people for providing reports, data and further detailed information: Robin Hunnewell, Tony Diamond, Scott Wilson, Cameron Eckert, Charles Duncan, Suzanne Carrière, Margaret Rubega, Cheri Gratto-Trevor, Jeremy Wilson, Rosemary Curley, Erica Nol, Dave Mossop, Lindsay Tudor, Guy Morrison, Jennifer Provencher and Daniel McAuley.

Authorities Contacted
NameTitleCity
Ken AbrahamResearch Scientist, Science and Research Branch, Ministry of Natural Resources, Government of OntarioPeterborough, ON
Amy AmosExecutive Director, Gwich’in Renewable Resources BoardInuvik, NT
Robert AndersonResearch Scientist, Canadian Museum of NatureOttawa, ON
Bruce BennettYukon Conservation Data Centre Coordinator, Biodiversity Programs, Environment Yukon, Government of YukonWhitehorse, YK
Walter BezhaChair, Sahtu Renewable Resources BoardTulita, NT
Tim BirtProfessor, Department of Biology, Queens UniversityKingston, ON
Donna BigelowSpecies at Risk Biologist, Western Arctic Unit, Canadian Wildlife ServiceYellowknife, NT
Sean BlaneyAssistant Director, Atlantic Canada Conservation Data CentreSackville, NB
J. Sherman BoatesManager, Biodiversity, Wildlife Division, Government of Nova ScotiaKentville, NS
Ruben BolesBiologist, Species Population and Standards Management, Canadian Wildlife ServiceGatineau, QC
Vivian R. BrownellSenior Species at Risk Biologist, Species at Risk Branch, Ministry of Natural Resources, Government of OntarioPeterborough, ON
Syd CanningsSpecies at Risk Biologist, Northern Conservation Division, Canadian Wildlife ServiceWhitehorse, YK
Larry CarpenterChair, Wildlife Management Advisory Council – Northwest TerritoriesInuvik, NT
Suzanne CarrièreBiologist, Wildlife Division, Government of the Northwest TerritoriesYellowknife, NT
Myke ChutterBird Specialist, Ministry of Environment, Government of British ColumbiaVictoria, BC
Lynda D. CorkumProfessor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of WindsorWindsor, ON
Gordon CourtProvincial Wildlife Status Biologist, Fish and Wildlife Division, Government of AlbertaEdmonton, AB
Robert CraigSpecies at Risk Project Biologist, Natural Heritage Information Centre, Science and Information Branch, Ministry of Natural Resources, Government of OntarioPeterborough, ON
Bill CrinsCoordinator, Parks and Protected Areas Policy Section, Ministry of Natural Resources, Government of OntarioPeterborough, ON
Rosemary CurleyConservation Biologist, Forests, Fish and Wildlife Division, Government of Prince Edward IslandCharlottetown, PE
Charles DuncanDirector, Shorebird Recovery Project, Manomet Center for Conservation SciencesManomet, MA
Dave DuncanManager, Population Conservation Section, Prairie and Northern Region, Canadian Wildlife ServiceEdmonton, AB
Samara EatonWildlife Biologist, Species at Risk Recovery, Atlantic Region, Canadian Wildlife ServiceSackville, NB
Cameron EckertConservation Biologist, Yukon Parks, Environment Yukon, Government of YukonWhitehorse, YK
Mark F. ElderkinProvincial Species at Risk Biologist, Wildlife Division, Government of Nova ScotiaKentville, NS
Gilles FalardeauMigratory Bird Biologist, Population Conservation, Québec Region, Canadian Wildlife ServiceQuébec, QC
François FournierResearch Manager, Wildlife Research Division, Science and Technology Branch, Environment CanadaQuébec, QC
David F. FraserUnit Head, Scientific Authority Assessment, Ecosystem Branch, Government of British ColumbiaVictoria, BC
Isabelle GauthierBiologiste en conservation, Direction générale de l’expertise sur la faune et ses habitats, Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs, Québec, Gouvernement du QuébecQuébec, QC
Pascal GiassonManager, Species at Risk Program, Fish and Wildlife Branch, Government of New BrunswickFredericton, NB
Michel GosselinCollections Manager, Canadian Museum of NatureOttawa, ON
Cheri Gratto-TrevorResearch Scientist, Prairie and Northern Research Centre, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment CanadaSaskatoon, SK
Siu-Ling HanHead, Eastern Arctic Unit, Prairie and Northern Region, Canadian Wildlife ServiceIqaluit, NT
Robin HunnewellShorebird BiologistBoston, MA
Thomas JungSenior Wildlife Biologist, Fish and Wildlife Branch, Environment Yukon, Government of YukonWhitehorse, YK
Peter KyddWildlife Management Biologist (Habitat and Species at Risk), Nunavut Wildlife Management BoardIqaluit, NU
Nicholas LarterManager, Wildlife Research Monitoring Dehco Region, Government of the Northwest TerritoriesFort Simpson, NT
Nicolas LecomteEcosystem Biologist, Department of Environment, Government of NunavutIgloolik, NU
Bruce MacDonaldManager, Northern Conservation Section, Prairie and Northern Region, Canadian Wildlife ServiceYellowknife, NT
Craig MachtansLandbird Biologist and Administrator of the NWT/NU Checklist Database, Canadian Wildlife ServiceYellowknife, NT
Daniel McAuleyResearch Wildlife Biologist, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research CenterOrono, ME
Natalka MelnyckySpecial Projects Biologist, Gwich’in Renewable Resources BoardInuvik, NT
Rhonda MillikinA/Head Population Assessment, Pacific Wildlife Research Centre, Pacific and Yukon Region, Canadian Wildlife ServiceDelta, BC
Shelley MooresSenior Manager, Endangered Species and Biogiversity, Wildlife Division, Government of Newfoundland and LabradorCorner Brook, NL
R.I. Guy MorrisonScientist Emeritus, Science and Technology Branch, Environment CanadaOttawa, ON
Dave MossopProfessor Emeritus, Yukon Research Centre, Yukon CollegeWhitehorse, YK
Randi MulderData Manager, Yukon Conservation Data Centre, Department of Environment, Fish and Wildlife Branch, Government of YukonWhitehorse, YK
Patrick NantelConservation Biologist, Parks CanadaGatineau, QC
Erica NolProfessor, Department of Biology, Trent UniversityPeterborough, ON
Rick PageBiologist, Page and Associates Environmental SolutionsVictoria, BC
Annie PaquetTechnicienne de la faune, Direction générale de l’expertise sur la faune et ses habitats Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs, Gouvernement du QuebécQuébec, QC
Todd PowellManager, Biodiversity Programs, Fish and Wildlife Branch, Environment Yukon, Government of YukonWhitehorse, YK
Jennifer ProvencherPhD Candidate, Carleton UniversityOttawa, ON
Jennie RauschShorebird Biologist, Canadian Wildlife ServiceYellowknife, NT
Margaret RubegaProfessor, University of ConnecticutWest Hartford, CT
Rich RussellWildlife Biologist, Population Conservation, Ontario Region, Canadian Wildlife ServiceDownsview, ON
Mary SabineBiologist, Species at Risk Program, Fish and Wildlife Branch, Government of New BrunswickFredericton, NB
Tamaini SnaithSpecial Advisor, Parks CanadaGatineau, QC
Jody Snortland PellissleyExecutive Director, Wek’eezhii Renewable Resources BoardYellowknife, NT
Susan E. SquiresEcosystem Management Ecologist, Biodiversity and Endangered Species, Wildlife Division, Government of Newfoundland and LabradorCorner Brook, NL
Lindsay StaplesChair, Wildlife Management Advisory Council – North SlopeWhitehorse, YK
Katrina StipecSpecies at Risk Information Specialist, British Columbia Conservation Data Centre, Ministry of Environment, Government of British ColumbiaVictoria, BC
Lindsay TudorWildlife Biologist, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Government of MaineBangor, ME
Graham Van TighemExecutive Director, Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management BoardWhitehorse, YK
Bill WatkinsZoologist, Wildlife and Ecosystem Protection Branch, Government of ManitobaWinnipeg, MB
Jeremy WilsonHead of Conservation Science, The Royal Society for the Protection of BirdsEdinburgh, Scotland
Scott WilsonWildlife Biologist, Wildlife Research Division, Environment Canada Science and Technology BranchSaskatoon, SK

Top of Page


Information Sources

Abraham, K.F., R.L. Jefferies, R.T. Alisauskas. 2005. They dynamics of landscape change and snow geese in mid-continent North America. Global Climate Change Biology 11:841-855.

Abraham, K.F., R.L. Jefferies, R.T. Alisauskas, and R.F. Rockwell. 2012. Northern wetland ecosystems and their response to high densities of lesser snow geese and Ross’s geese. Pages 9-45 in Leafloor, J.O., T.J. Moser, and B.D.J. Batt (editors). Evaluation of special management measures for midcontinent lesser snow geese and Ross’s geese. Arctic Goose Joint Venture Special Publication. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C. and Canadian Wildlife Service, Ottawa, Canada.

ACIA. 2005. Arctic climate impact assessment. Cambridge University Press. 1042 pp. Alaska Shorebird Group. 2008. Alaska shorebird conservation plan. Version II. Alaska Shorebird Group, Anchorage, USA. Website: [Accessed April 2013].

Alexander, S.A., and C.L. Gratto-Trevor. 1997. Shorebird migration and staging at a large prairie lake and wetland complex: the Quill Lakes, Saskatchewan. Occasional Paper Number 97, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, Ottawa, Canada. 47 pp.

Andres, B.A. 2006. An Arctic-breeding bird survey on the Northwestern Ungava Peninsula, Québec, Canada. Arctic 59:311-318.

Andres, B.A., P.A. Smith, R.I.G. Morrison, C.L. Gratto-Trevor, S.C. Brown, and C.A. Friis. 2012. Population estimates of North American shorebirds 2012. Wader Study Group Bulletin 119:178-194.

Ashenhurst, A.R. and Hannon, S.J. 2008. Effects of Seismic lines on the abundance of breeding birds in the Kendall Island Bird Sanctuary, Northwest Territories, Canada. Arctic. 61:190-198.

B.C. Conservation Data Centre. 2013. B.C. Species and Ecosystem Explorer. B.C. Ministry of Environment. Victoria, Canada. Available: [Accessed June 2013]

Baker, M.C. 1977. Shorebird food habits in the Eastern Canadian Arctic. The Condor 79:56-62.

Bart, J., S. Brown, B. Harrington, and R.I.G. Morrison. 2007. Survey trends of North American shorebirds: population declines or shifting distributions? Journal of Avian Biology 38:73-82.

Bart, J. and P.A. Smith. 2012a. Summary and conclusions. Chapter 14 in Bart, J. and V.H. Johnston (eds.). Arctic shorebirds in North America: a decade of monitoring. Studies in Avian Biology (vol. 44). University of California Press, Berkeley, USA.

Bart, J. and P.A. Smith. 2012b. Design of future surveys. Chapter 13 in Bart, J. and V.H. Johnston (eds.). 2012. Arctic shorebirds in North America: a decade of monitoring. Studies in Avian Biology (vol. 44). University of California Press, Berkeley, USA.

Bent, A.C. 1962. Life Histories of North American Shorebirds – Part I. Dover Publications, Inc., New York, USA. Pp. 15-28.

Beyersbergen, G.W. 2009a. Shorebird observations and surveys at Luck Lake, Saskatchewan: 1993-2002. Canadian Wildlife Service Technical Report Series No. 507, Prairie and Northern Region. Edmonton, Canada.

Beyersbergen, G.W. 2009b. Shorebird migration surveys of Alberta-Saskatchewan border lakes and the north-central lakes of Saskatchewan: 1995-1998. Canadian Wildlife Service Technical Report Series No. 505, Prairie and Northern Region. Edmonton, Canada.

Beyersbergen, G.W. 2009c. Observations of shorebird migration at Hay-Zama Lakes and Kimiwan Lake, Alberta: 2001-2003. Canadian Wildlife Service Technical Report Series Number 506, Prairie and Northern Region. Edmonton, Canada.

Beyersbergen, G.W. and D.C. Duncan. 2007. Shorebird abundance and migration at Chaplin Lake, Old Wives Lake and Reed Lake, Saskatchewan: 1993 and 1994. Canadian Wildlife Service Technical Report Series 484. Prairie and Northern Region. Edmonton, Canada. 57 pp.

Birdlife International. 2012a. Important Bird Areas: Brier Island and Offshore Waters, Westport, Nova Scotia, Canada. Web site: [Accessed March 2012]

Birdlife International. 2012b. Important Bird Areas: Quoddy Region, Wilson’s Beach/Plage Wilson, New Brunswick, Canada. Web site: [Accessed March 2012]

BirdLife International 2012c. Phalaropus lobatus. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. Downloaded on 10 July 2013.

Braune, B.M., and D.G. Noble. 2009. Environmental contaminants in Canadian shorebirds. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 148:185-204.

British Columbia Breeding Bird Atlas. 2013. Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus): 2008-2012. Bird Studies Canada, Delta, Canada.

Brown, R.G.B., and D.E. Gaskin. 1988. The pelagic ecology of the Grey and Red-necked Phalaropes Phalaropus fulicarius and P. lobatus in the Bay of Fundy, eastern Canada. Ibis 130:234-250.

Brown, S., C. Hickey, B. Harrington, R. Gill. 2001. United States shorebird conservation plan, Second Edition. Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, Manomet, USA.

Brown, S., C. Duncan, J. Chardine, and M. Howe. 2010. Version 1.1. Red-necked Phalaropes. Research, Monitoring, and Conservation Plan for Northeastern U.S. and Maritimes Canada. Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, Manomet, USA.

Brown, S., S. Kendall, R. Churchwell, A. Taylor, and A. Benson. 2012. Relative shorebird densities at coastal sites in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Waterbirds 35:546-554.

Campbell, R.W., N.K. Dawe, I. McTaggart-Cowan, J.M. Cooper, G.W. Kaiser, and M.C.E McNall. 1990. The Birds of British Columbia: Volume 2. UBC Press, Vancouver, Canada. Pp. 216-217.

Canadian Wildlife Service – Prairie & Northern Region (CWS – PNR). 2013. Northwest Territories – Nunavut Bird Checklist Survey program data (unpublished). Retrieved 1 July 2013 from Checklist database.

Chapin F.S., G.R. Shaver, A.E. Giblin, K.J. Nadelhoffer, and J.A. Laundre. 1995. Responses of Arctic tundra to experimental and observed changes in climate. Ecology 76:694-711.

Chardine, J.W. 2005. A possible reason for the disappearance of phalaropes from around Deer and Campabello Islands: Availability of their favourite prey. J.A. Percy, A.J. Evans, P.G. Wells, and S.J. Rolston (eds.). The Changing Bay of Fundy: Beyond 400 Years. Proceedings of the 6th Bay of Fundy Workshop, Cornwallis, Nova Scotia. Environment Canada – Atlantic Region, Occasional Report No. 23. Dartmouth and Sackville, Canada.

Chu, P.C. 1995. Phylogenetic reanalysis of Strauch’s osteological data set for the Charadriiformes. Condor 97:174-196.

Colwell, M.A. 1986. The first documented case of polyandry for Wilson’s Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor). The Auk 103:611-612.

Colwell, M.A., J.D. Reynolds, C.L. Gratto-Trevor, D. Schamel, and D.M. Tracy. 1988. Phalarope Philopatry. Pp. 585-593 in Henri Ouellet (ed.) Acta XIX Congressus Internationalis Ornithologici, Ottawa National Museum of Science/University of Ottawa Press, Ottawa, Canada.

Cooley, D., C.D. Eckert, and R.R. Gordon. 2012. Herschel Island – Qikiqtaruk inventory, monitoring and research program: Key findings and recommendations. Yukon Parks, Department of Environment, Whitehorse, Canada. 49 pp.

Cotter, R. 1996. Red-necked Phalarope pp. 1142-1143 in The Breeding Birds of Québec. (Gauthier, J. and Y. Aubry eds.).Quebec Region, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, Montréal, Canada.

Dale, J., R. Montgomerie, D. Michaud, and P. Boag. 1999. Frequency and timing of extrapair fertilisation in the polyandrous red phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 46:50-56.

Danks, H.V. 1971. A note on the early season food of Arctic migrants. Canadian Field Naturalist 75:71-72.

DiGiacomo, P.M., W.M. Hamner, P.P. Hamner, and R. M.A. Caldeira. 2002. Phalaropes feeding at a coastal front in Santa Monica Bay, California. Journal of Marine Systems 37:199-212.

Donaldson, G.M, C. Hyslop, R.I.G. Morrison, H.L. Dickson, and I. Davidson. 2000. Canadian shorebird conservation plan. Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service, Ottawa, Canada.

Duncan, C.D. 1995. The migration of Red-necked Phalaropes: ecological mysteries and conservation concerns. Birding 34:122-132.

Duncan, C.D. 1996. The migration of Red-necked Phalaropes. Birding 35:482–488.

Duncan, C.D., J. Kenneday, and P.W. Hicklin. 2001. Phalaropes in the Bay of Fundy. Bird Trends No. 8, Winter 2001. Pp. 39-40. [Canadian Wildlife Service, Ottawa, Canada].

Erckmann, W.J. Jr. 1981. The evolution of sex-role reversal and monogamy in shorebirds. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Washington, USA.

Finch, D.W., W.C. Russell, and E.V. Thompson. 1978. Pelagic birds in the Gulf of Maine. American Birds 32:281-294.

Forbes, B.C., J.J. Ebersole, and B. Strandberg. 2001. Anthropogenic disturbance and patch dynamics in circumpolar Arctic ecosystems. Conservation Biology 15:954-969.

Gamberg, M., B. Braune, E. Davey, B.Elkin, Hoekstra, P.F., D. Kennedy, C. Macdonald, D. Muir, A. Nirwal, M. Wayland, and B. Zeeb. 2005. Spatial and temporal trends of contaminants in terrestrial biota from the Canadian Arctic. Science of the Total Environment. 351-352:148-164.

Garrett, K. and J. Dunn. 1981. Birds of southern California: status and distribution. Los Angeles Audubon Society. Los Angeles, USA.

Gibson, R. and A. Baker. 2012. Multiple gene sequences resolve phylogenetic relationships in the shorebird suborder Scolopaci (Aves: Charadriiformes). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 64:66-72.

Godfrey, W.E. 1986. The Birds of Canada. Revised Edition. National Museum of Natural Sciences. Ottawa, Canada.

Gratto-Trevor, C.L. 1994a. Monitoring shorebird populations in the Arctic. Bird Trends 3:10-12 [Canadian Wildlife Service, Ottawa, Canada].

Gratto-Trevor, C.L. 1994b. Potential effects of global climate change on shorebirds in the Mackenzie Delta Lowlands. In Mackenzie Basin Study Interim Report #2, S.J. Cohen (ed.). Proceedings of the 6th Biennial AES/DIAND Meeting on Northern Climate and Mid Study Workshop of the Mackenzie Basin Impact Study; Yellowknife, NWT April 10-14, 1994.

Gratto-Trevor, C.L. 1996. Use of Landsat TM imagery in determining important shorebird habitat in the outer Mackenzie Delta, Northwest Territories. Arctic 49:11-22.

Gratto-Trevor, C.L. 1997. Climate change: proposed effects on shorebird habitat, prey and numbers in the outer Mackenzie Delta. In Mackenzie Basin Impact Final Report, S.J. Cohen (ed.). Environment Canada, Downsview, Canada.

Haig, S.M., C.L. Gratto-Trevor, T.D. Mullins, and M.A. Colwell. 1997. Population identification of western hemisphere shorebirds throughout the annual cycle. Molecular Ecology 6:413-427.

Haney, J.C. 1985. Wintering phalaropes off the southeastern United States: application of remote sensing imagery to seabird habitat anaylsis at oceanic fronts. Journal of Field Ornithology 56:321-333.

Haney, J.C. 1986. Shorebird patchiness in tropical oceanic waters: the influence of Sargassum reefs. The Auk 103:141-151.

Hargreaves, A.L., D.P. Whiteside, and G. Gilchrist. 2010. Concentrations of seventeen elements, including mercury, and their relationship to fitness measures in arctic shorebirds and their eggs. Science of the Total Environment 408:3153-3161.

Henry, H. A. L., and R. L. Jefferies. 2008. Opportunistic herbivores, migratory connectivity, and catastrophic shifts in Arctic coastal systems. Pages 85-102 in B. R Silliman, M. D Bertness and G. R Huxel (editors). Anthropogenic modification of North American salt marshes. University of California Press, Berkeley, USA.

Hildén, O. and S. Vuolanto. 1972. Breeding biology of the Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus in Finland. Ornis Fennica 49:57-85.

Höhn, E.O. 1959. Birds of the Anderson River. The Canadian Field Naturalist 73:93-114.

Höhn, E.O. 1968a. Some observations on the breeding of Northern Phalaropes at Scammon Bay, Alaska. The Auk 85:316-317.

Höhn, E.O. 1968b. Observations on the breeding behaviour of phalaropes. Arctic 21:40-41.

Höhn, E.O. 1971. Observations on the breeding behaviour of Grey and Red-necked Phalaropes. Ibis 113:335-348.

Höhn, E.O. and D.J. Mussell. 1980. Northern Phalarope breeding in Alberta. Canadian Field-Naturalist 94:189-190.

Jehl, Jr., J.R., and W. Lin. 2001. Population status of shorebirds nesting at Churchill, Manitoba. The Canadian Field-Naturalist 115:487-494.

Jenssen, B.M. 1994. Review Article – Effects of oil pollution, chemically treated oil and cleaning on the thermal balance of birds. Environmental Pollution 86:207-215.

Jorgenson, J.C., J.M. Ver Hoef, and M.T. Jorgenson. 2010. Long-term recovery patterns of arctic tundra after winter seismic exploration. Ecological Applications 20:205-221.

Latour, P.B., C.S. Machtans, and C.W. Beyersbergen. 2005. Shorebird and passerine abundance and habitat use at a high Arctic breeding site: Creswell Bay, Nunavut. Arctic 58:55-65.

Latour, PB, CS Machtans and JE Hines. 2010. The abundance of breeding shorebirds and songbirds in the Banks Island Bird Sanctuary Number 1, Northwest Territories, in relation to the growing colony of Lesser Snow Geese (Chen caerulescens caerulescens) in Hines, JE, PB Latour and CS Machtans (eds). The effects of lowland habitat, breeding shorebrids and songbirds in the Banks Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary Number 1 by growing colony of Lesser Snow Geese (Chen caerulescens caerulescens). Canadian Wildlife Service Occasional Paper Number 118. Canadian Wildlife Service, Yellowknife, Canada. Pp.27-39.

Lieske D.J., D.A. Fifield, and C. Gjerdrum. 2014. Maps, models, and marine vulnerability: Assessing the community distribution of seabirds at-sea. Biological Conservation. 172:15-28.

Lipske, M. 1998. When this waterbird is hungry it simply summons food to the surface. National Wildlife 36:18-19.

Lucas, Z., A. Horn, and B. Freedman. 2009. Beached bird surveys on Sable Island, Nova Scotia, 1993 to 2009, show a decline in the incidence of oiling. Proceedings of the Nova Scotian Institute of Science 47:91-129

Macdonald, R.W., L.A. Barrie, T.F. Bridleman, M.L. Diamond, D.J. Gregor, R.G. Semkin, W.M.J. Strachan, Y.F. Li, F. Wania, M. Alaee, L.B. Alexeeva, S.M. Backus, R. Bailey, J.M. Bewers, C. Gobeil, C.J. Halsall, T. Harner, J.T. Hoff, L.M.M. Jantunen, W.L. Lockhart, D. Mackay, D.C.G. Muir, J. Pudykiewcz, K.J. Reimer, J.N. Smith, G.A. Stern, W.H. Schroeder, R. Wagemann, M.B. Yunker. 2000. Contaminants in the Canadian Arctic: 5 years of progress in understanding sources, occurrence and pathways. The Science of the Total Environment 254:93-234.

Mckinnon, L., E. Nol and C. Juillet. 2013. Arctic-nesting birds find physiological relief in the face of trophic constraints. Scientific Reports 3:1816

Meltofte, H. 2006. Wader populations at Zackenberg, high-arctic Northeast Greenland, 1996-2005. Dansk Ornitologisk Forenings Tidsskrift (Journal of the Danish Ornithological Society) 100:16-28.

Mercier, F.M. 1985. Fat reserves and migration of Red-necked Phalaropes (Phalaropus lobatus) in the Quoddy region, New Brunswick. Canadian Journal of Zoology 63:2810-2816.

Mercier, F. and D.E. Gaskin. 1985. Feeding ecology of migrating Red-necked Phalaropes (Phalaropus lobatus) in the Quoddy region, New Brunswick, Canada. Canadian Journal of Zoology 63:1062-1067.

Milakovic, M., T.J. Carleton, and R.L. Jefferies. 2001. Changes in midge (Diptera: Chironomidae) populations of sub-arctic supratidal vernal pools in response to goose foraging. Ecoscience 8:58-67.

Morrison, R.I.G., R.E. Gill, Jr., B.A. Harrington, S. Skagen, G.W. Page, C.L. Gratto-Trevor, and S. M. Haig. 2001. Estimates of shorebird populations in North America. Canadian Wildlife Service Occasional Paper 104. Environment Canada, Ottawa, Canada. 67 pp.

Morrison, R.I.G., B.J. McCaffery, R.E. Gill, S.K. Skagen, S.L. Jones, G.W. Page, C.L. Gratto-Trevor, and B.A. Andres. 2006. Population estimates of North American Shorebirds. Wader Study Group Bulletin. 111:67-85.

Moser, M.L. and D.S. Lee. 1992. A fourteen-year survey of plastic ingestion by Western North Atlantic Seabirds. Colonial Waterbirds 15:83-94.

Moser, M.L. and D.S. Lee. 2012. Foraging over Sargassum by Western North Atlantic seabirds. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology. 124:66-72.

Murphy, R.C. 1936. Oceanic birds of South America. Vol. 2. American Museum of Natural History. New York, USA.

Myers-Smith, I.H., and B.C. Forbes, M. Wilmking, M. Hallinger, T.Lantz, D. Blok, K.D. Tape, M. Macias-Fauria, U. Sass-Klaassen, E. Lévesque, S. Boudreau, P. Ropars, L. Hermanutz, A. Trant, L. Siegwart Collier, S. Weijers, J. Rozema, S.A. Rayback, N. Martin Schmidt, G. Schaepman-Strub, S. Wipf, C. Rixen, C.B. Ménard, S. Venn, S. Goetz, L. Andreu-Hayles, S. Elmendorf, V. Ravolainen, J. Welker, P. Grogan, H.E. Epstein, and D.S. Hik. 2011. Shrub expansion in tundra ecosystems: dynamics, impacts and research priorities. Environmental Research Letters 6:045509. 15 pp. Available: doi:10.1088/1748-9326/6/4/045509 [Accessed July 2013].

NatureServe. 2013. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopaedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Web site: [Accessed March 2013].

Nevins, H.M., C. Young, C. Bibble, and J.T. Harvey. 2011. Chronic Oil and Seabirds. Report to California Fish and Game Office of Spill Prevention and Response. Marine Wildlife and Veterinary Care and Research Center. Santa Cruz, USA.

Nol, E. and B. Beveridge. 2007. Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus) pp. 254-255 in Atlas of the breeding birds of Ontario 2001-2005 (M.D. Cadman, P.F.J. Eagles, and F.M. Helleiner, eds.). University of Waterloo Press, Waterloo, Canada.

Northwest Territories Environment and Natural Resources. 2012. State of the Environment Report. Government of the Northwest Territories, Yellowknife, NT. Available: http://www.enr.gov.nt.ca/_live/pages/wpPages/SOE_Welcome.aspx [Accessed July 2013].

Odum, U.P., and C.E. Connell. 1956. Lipid levels in migrating birds. Science 123:892-894.

O’Hara, P.D., N. Serra-Sogas, R. Canessa, P. Keller, and R. Pelot. 2013. Estimating discharge rates of oily wastes and deterrence based on aerial surveillance data collected in western Canadian marine waters. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 69:157-164.

Orr, C.D., R.M.P. Ward, N.A. Williams, and R.G.B. Brown. 1982. Migration patterns of Red and Northern Phalaropes in southwest Davis Strait and in the northern Labrador Sea. Wilson Bulletin 94:303-312.
Page, G.W., and Shuford, W.D. 2000. Southern Pacific Coast Regional Shorebird Plan, Version 1. Point Reyes Bird Observatory. Stinson Beach, USA.

Perovich, D., W. Meier, M. Tschudi, S. Gerland, and J. Richter-Menge. 2012. Sea Ice in Arctic Report Card. Available: [Accessed July 2013].

Peters, H.S., and T.D. Burleigh. 1951. The Birds of Newfoundland. Department of Natural Resources. St. John’s, Canada.

Powell, A.N., A.R. Taylor, and R.B. Lanctot. 2010. Pre-migratory Ecology and Physiology of Shorebirds Staging on Alaska’s North Slope. Minerals Management Service Department of the Interior and School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, Coastal Marine Institute, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, USA.

Reynolds, J.D. 1987. Mating system and nesting biology of the Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus: what constrains polyandry? Ibis 129:225-242.

Reynolds, J.D. 2003. Red-necked Phalarope. Pp. 193 in. B. Carey, W. Christiaanson, C.E. Curtis, L. de March, G.E. Holland, R.F. Koes, R.W. Nero, R.J. Parsons, P. Taylor, M. Waldron, and F. Walz. The Birds of Manitoba. Manitoba Naturalists Society, Winnipeg, Canada. Pp. 504.

Reynolds, J.D., M.A. Colwell, and F. Cooke. 1986. Sexual selection and spring arrival times of Red-necked and Wilson’s Phalaropes. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 18:303-310.

Reynolds, J.D. and F. Cooke. 1988. The influence of mating systems on philopatry: A test with polyandrous Red-necked Phalaropes. Animal Behavior 36:1788-1795.

Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003. Digital distribution maps of the birds of the western hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, USA.

Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2007. Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 3.0. NatureServe, Arlington, USA.

Riordan, B., D. Verbyla, and A.D. McGuire. 2006. Shrinking ponds in subarctic Alaska based on 1950-2002 remote sensing images. Journal of Geophysical Research 111:1-11.

Rockwell, R.F., K.F. Abraham, C.R. Witte, P. Matulonis, M. Usai, D. Larsen, F. Cooke, D. Pollak, and R.L. Jefferies. 2009. The birds of Wapusk National Park. Occasional Paper (1), Parks Canada, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Rodrigues, R. 1994. Microhabitat variables influencing nest-site selection by tundrabirds. Ecological Applications 4:110-116.

Ronconi, R.A. 2006. Predicting bird oiling events at oil sands tailings ponds and assessing the importance of alternate waterbodies for waterfowl: a preliminary assessment. The Canadian Field-Naturalist 120:1-9.

Rubega, M.A., D. Schamel, and D. Tracy. 2000. Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus Lobatus) in A. Poole (ed.). The Birds of North America Online, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca. Website: [Accessed March 2013].

Salt, W.R., and A.L. Wilk. 1958. The Birds of Alberta. Department of Economic Affairs, Edmonton, Canada. 511 pp.

Sammler, J.E., D.E. Andersen, and S.K Skagen. 2008. Population trends of tundra-nesting birds at Cape Churchill, Manitoba, in relation to increasing goose populations. Condor 110:325-334.

Sandercock, B.K. 1997. The breeding biology of Red-necked Phalaropes Phalaropus lobatus at Nome, Alaska. Wader Study Group Bulletin 85:50-54.

Sandercock, B.K. 2003. Estimation of survival rates for wader populations: a review of mark-recapture methods. Wader Study Group Bulletin 100: 163–174.

Schamel, D., and D. Tracy. 1977. Polyandry, replacement clutches, and site tenacity in the Red Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius) at Barrow Alaska. Bird Banding 48:314-324.

Schamel, D., and D. Tracy. 1988. Are yearlings distinguishable from older Red-necked Phalaropes? Journal of Field Ornithology 62:390-398.

Schamel. D., and D. Tracy. 1991. Breeding site fidelity and natal philopatry in the sex role-reversed Red and Red-necked Phalaropes. Journal of Field Ornithology 62(3):390-398.

Schamel, D., and D. Tracy. 2003. Phalaropes. Alaska Department of Fish and Game [PDF, 49.8 KB]. Available: [Accessed August 2013]

Schamel, D., D. Tracy, D.B. Lank, and D.F. Westneat. 2004a. Mate guarding, copulation strategies and paternity in the sex-role reversed, socially polyandrous Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

Schamel, D., D. Tracy, and D.B. Lank. 2004b. Male mate choice, male availability and egg production as limitations on polyandry in the Red-necked Phalarope. Animal Behaviour 67:847-853.

Serreze, M.C., J.E. Walsh, F.S. Chapin III, T. Osterkamp, M. Dyurgerov, V. Romanovsky, W.C. Oechel, J. Morison, T. Zhang, and R.G. Barry. 2000. Observational evidence of recent change in the northern high-latitude environment. Climate Change 46:159-207.

Sinclair, P.H., W.A. Nixon, C.D. Eckert, and N.L. Hughes. 2003. Birds of the Yukon Territory. UBC Press, Vancouver, Canada.

Smith, L.C., Y. Sheng, G.M. MacDonald, and L.D. Hinzman. 2005. Disappearing Arctic lakes. Science 308:1429.

Smith, A.C., J.A. Virgl, D. Panayi, and A.R. Armstrong. 2005. Effects of a diamond mine on tundra-breeding birds. Arctic 58: 295-304.

Smith, M., M. Bolton, D.J. Okill, R.W. Summers, P. Ellis, F. Liechti and J.D. Wilson. 2014. Geolocator tagging reveals Pacific migration of Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus breeding in Scotland. Ibis 156: 870-873.

Sturm, R., C. Racine, and K. Tape. 2001. Climate change – increasing shrub abundance in the Arctic. Nature 411:546-547.
Timoney, K.P. and R.A. Ronconi. 2010. Annual bird mortality in the bitumen tailings ponds in Northeastern Alberta, Canada. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology. 122:569-576.

Todd, W.E.C. 1963. Northern Phalarope (Lobipes lobatus) pp. 350-354 in Birds of the Labrador Peninsula and Adjacent Areas: A Distributional List. Carnegie Museum and University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Canada.

Tulp, I., and H. Schekkerman. 2008. Has prey availability for arctic birds advanced with climate change? Hindcasting the abundance of tundra arthropods using weather and seasonal variation. Arctic 61:48-60.

Walpole, B., E. Nol, and V. Johnston. 2008a. Pond characteristics and occupancy by Red-necked Phalaropes in the Mackenzie Delta, Northwest Territories, Canada. Arctic. 61:426-432

Walpole, B., E. Nol, and V. Johnston. 2008b. Breeding habitat preference and nest success of Red-necked Phalaropes on Niglintgak Island. Canadian Journal of Zoology 86:1346-1357

Wiese, F.K. and G.J. Robertson. 2004. Assessing seabird mortality from chronic oil discharges at sea. Journal of Wildlife Management 68:627-638.

Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. 2009. Great Salt Lake. Available: [Accessed July 2014).

Wetlands International. 2013. Waterbird Population Estimates. Available: wpe.wetlands.org [Accessed July 2013].

Wetlands International. 2014. Waterbird Population Estimates. Available: wpe.wetlands.org [accessed Aug 2014].

Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope) and Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee. 2003. Aklavik and Inuvialuit describe the status of certain birds and animals on the Yukon North Slope, March 2003, Final Report. Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope), Whitehorse, Yukon.

Whitfield D.P. 1990. Male choice and sperm competition as constraints on polyandry in the Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 27:247-254.

Whitfield, D.P. 1995. Behavior and ecology of a polyandrous population of Grey Phalaropes Phalaropus fulicarius in Iceland. Journal of Avian Biology 26:349-352.

Wilhelm, S.I., G.J. Robertson, P.C. Ryan, S.F. Tobin, and R.D. Elliot. 2009. Re-evaluating the use of beached bird oiling rates to assess long-term trends in chronic oil pollution. Marine Pollution Bulletin 58:249-255.

Yukon Conservation Data Centre. 2012. Yukon Concervation Data Centre’s Animal Track List – Updated May 2012. Yukon Environment, Whitehorse, Canada. 5 pp.

Top of Page


Biographical Summary of Report Writers

Bree Walpole completed her B.Sc. at the University of Guelph. She obtained her M.Sc. through Trent University, where she studied habitat associations and nest success of Red-necked Phalaropes on Niglingtak Island, Northwest Territories. She has worked on a number of research projects on varying taxa across North America. She is currently a Species at Risk Policy Analyst for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

Paul Smith completed a B.Sc. at Trent University, an M.Sc. at the University of British Columbia and a Ph.D. at Carleton University. He has studied the shorebirds of the Eastern Arctic for 15 years. At the time of writing, Paul was lead consultant at Smith and Associates Ecological Research Limited. He now works as a Research Scientist with Environment Canada, specializing in the study of Arctic birds and ecosystems.

Top of Page


Collections Examined

No collections were examined for this report.


Appendix 1: Threats Classification Table for Red-necked Phalarope

Threats Assessment Worksheet

Species or Ecosystem Scientific Name
Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)
Date
07/03/2014
Assessor(s):
Dave Fraser, Vivian Brownell, Bree Walpole, Paul Smith, Cheri Gratto-Trevor, Marty Leonard, Julie Paquet, Jon McCracken, Pam Sinclair, Ruben Boles, Julie Perrault
Overall Threat Impact Calculation Help:
Threat ImpactThreat Impact (descriptions)Level 1 Threat Impact Counts:
high range
Level 1 Threat Impact Counts:
low range
AVery High00
BHigh10
CMedium00
DLow12
-Calculated Overall Threat Impact:HighLow

Threats Assessment Worksheet Table.

#ThreatImpact
(calculated)
Scope
(next
10 Yrs)
Severity
(10 Yrs
or
3 Gen.)
TimingComments
1Residential & commercial developmentNegligibleSmall (1-10%)Negligible (<1%)High (Continuing)-
1.1Housing & urban areasNegligibleSmall (1-10%)Negligible (<1%)-Some evidence in literature about birds being attracted to light in buildings at night (affects portion of population migrating through urban areas).
1.2Commercial & industrial areasNegligibleSmall (1-10%)Negligible (<1%)High (Continuing)Some evidence in literature about birds being attracted to flaring in oil rigs at night.
2Agriculture & aquacultureNegligibleNegligible (<1%)UnknownHigh (Continuing)-
2.4Marine & freshwater aquacultureNegligibleNegligible (<1%)UnknownHigh (Continuing)Speculative impacts due to toxic sludge at offshore shrimp farms.
3Energy production & miningNegligibleNegligible (<1%)Extreme (71-100%)High (Continuing)-
3.1Oil & gas drillingNegligibleNegligible (<1%)Negligible (<1%)High (Continuing)-
3.2Mining & quarryingNegligibleNegligible (<1%)Extreme (71-100%)High (Continuing)-
3.3Renewable energyNegligibleNegligible (<1%)UnknownHigh (Continuing)-
4Transportation & service corridorsNegligibleNegligible (<1%)UnknownHigh (Continuing)-
4.1Roads & railroadsNegligibleNegligible (<1%)UnknownHigh (Continuing)May be some evidence on effects of road dust (master’s thesis from Trent?) or oil development indirect transport?
4.2Utility & service linesNegligibleNegligible (<1%)UnknownHigh (Continuing)-
4.3Shipping lanesNegligibleNegligible (<1%)UnknownHigh (Continuing)-
5Biological resource useNegligibleNegligible (<1%)Negligible (<1%)High (Continuing)-
5.1Hunting & collecting terrestrial animalsNegligibleNegligible (<1%)Negligible (<1%)High (Continuing)Sometimes hunted by kids practising hunting skills - local effect.
7Natural system modificationsUnknownSmall (1-10%)UnknownHigh (Continuing)-
7.2Dams & water management/useUnknownSmall (1-10%)UnknownHigh (Continuing)-
7.3Other ecosystem modificationsNegligibleSmall (1-10%)Negligible (<1%)UnknownDecline in prey may be occurring at stopover sites (see Brown, S., C. Duncan, J. Chardine, and M. Howe. 2010. Version 1.1. Red-necked Phalarope Research, Monitoring, and Conservation Plan for the Northeastern U.S. and Maritimes Canada. Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, Manomet, Massachusetts USA.)
8Invasive & other problematic species & genesD LowSmall (1-10%)Serious - Moderate (11-70%)High (Continuing)-
8.2Problematic native speciesD LowSmall (1-10%)Serious - Moderate (11-70%)High (Continuing)Snow goose range overlaps only in a fraction of the breeding range.
9PollutionUnknownPervasive (71-100%)UnknownHigh (Continuing)-
9.2Industrial & military effluentsUnknownRestricted (11-30%)UnknownHigh (Continuing)Birds are almost always offshore which increases chances of exposure. Winter ground not exactly known. Beaufort Sea and Grand Banks may be only areas likely to have oil development in range. On west coast, extensive shipping could increase. O-Hara is doing work on analysis of chance/effect of oil spills (not yet published) - could change the Severity rating of 'unknown'. Scope includes shipping and where (likely small scale) oil spills are a possibility (birds may be exposed to oil but not necessarily encountering oil). Birds that are exposed to oil would almost certainly die from impacts.
9.4Garbage & solid wasteUnknownUnknownUnknownUnknown-
9.5Air-borne pollutantsUnknownPervasive (71-100%)UnknownHigh (Continuing)-
11Climate change & severe weatherBD High-LowPervasive (71-100%)Serious - Slight(1-70%)High (Continuing)-
11.1Habitat shifting & alterationUnknownPervasive (71-100%)UnknownHigh (Continuing)This is the most likely threat driving the population down. Impacts on breeding grounds have been observed (premature drying of ponds, increased shrub). Impacts during migration may include changes in ocean currents and temperature, possibly altering prey abundance and distribution. El Niňo would almost certainly have impacts. The scope of these changes are uncertain. Cumulative impacts could be serious, but the timeframe is unknown. Climate change may have some short-term benefits on the breeding grounds, as permafrost melts and creates wetland habitat. Severity is the population decline that would be anticipated.
11.2DroughtsUnknownRestricted (11-30%)UnknownHigh (Continuing)-
11.4Storms & floodingUnknownUnknownUnknownHigh (Continuing)-

Classification of Threats adopted from IUCN-CMP, Salafsky et al.(2008).

Top of Page

Footnotes

Footnote 1

Conservation status ranks are defined as follows: S = sub-national; 2 = imperilled; 3 = vulnerable; 4 = apparently secure; NR = unranked; NA = not applicable; B = breeding; N = non-breeding; M = migrant.

Return to footnote 1 referrer