Focal species in tundra systems: gyrfalcon, willow ptarmigan

Long-term databases track changes in the population parameters of the top predator (gyrfalcon) and the keystone prey (willow ptarmigan).
Three study areas spaced north to south across the Yukon are surveyed annually. Breeding density and productivity are key variables along with breeding chronology. Ground search in late winter is used to survey ptarmigan, while air survey to known nest sites tracks gyrfalcon numbers. 

Ongoing reports and publications cover significant details and trends. Currently evidence points to a disruption to normal population cycling, and suggests a declining overall trophic response in the system.

This project is a part of the Biodiversity Monitoring Program with the Yukon Research Centre.

2008. Willow and Rock Ptarmigan Density Estimates – Northern Yukon 1975- 2008. IPY Project Report (W.O.L.V.E.S.), Northern Research Institute ms., Yukon College.

Project Team

Research Support: Yukon College students

  • Department of Environment, Government of Yukon
  • Ministry of Environment, Government of British Columbia

Parks & Conservation AND Fish and Wildlife Branch, Department of Environment, Government of Yukon

International Polar Year

Private funders

As well as annual proposals made to various sources.