Join us for our June Lunchtime Expedition, Golden Eagle Monitoring and Research in Yellowstone National Park, presented by David Haines.
The in-person talk takes place in the Center’s Coe Auditorium, with a virtual option available.
If you prefer to join us online, you may register in advance via Zoom webinar: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_CCh4A58PS1qHHDuaQZrPFQ
After registering, you will receive a confirmation e-mail containing information about joining the webinar.
Golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) are a North American species of conservation concern throughout their range. Prior to 2011, no data regarding local population size, reproduction, or food habits was available for the species in Yellowstone National Park (YNP). With range-wide conservation concerns for the species and the lack of local knowledge in YNP, golden eagles were included in the Yellowstone Raptor Initiative (YRI), a five-year program (2011–2015) established to collect baseline demographic data on previously overlooked raptor species in YNP. For golden eagles, monitoring occupancy and reproductive rates annually were the primary objective. A secondary objective was to better understand breeding season food habits through the collection of prey remains and the use of motion triggered cameras at the nest.
Golden eagle monitoring has continued beyond the initial five-year scope of work and since the start of the YRI, we have identified a relatively dense local population across the northern range of YNP. However, average reproductive rates over the past 12 years have been low, stimulating questions as to what environmental factors limit reproductive success. Hypotheses include extreme weather, variation in prey availability, and the recovery of large carnivores within YNP. To date, our research has evaluated temporal and spatial components of golden eagle habitat that could explain reproductive output of eagles in YNP’s northern range. Overall, the research has advanced our understanding of the potential drivers of low reproductive rates. However, given the consequences of low reproductive success in YNP, research regarding survival rates and other life-history stages is needed to better understand the status of this local population.
David Haines is a wildlife biologist with more than 20 years of experience studying birds and is currently Yellowstone National Park’s Bird Program lead. He has a bachelor’s degree from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in ecology and systematic biology, and a master’s degree from the University of Montana in wildlife biology.
He has been affiliated with Yellowstone’s bird program since 2011, first as part of the Yellowstone Raptor Initiative, a five-year program established to collect baseline demographic data on previously overlooked species in Yellowstone, including the golden eagle. At the conclusion of the Raptor Initiative, Haines focused his efforts on maintaining the golden eagle component of the Raptor Initiative and developing research-based objectives for the species in Yellowstone.
At the University of Montana, Haines studied breeding ecology and resource selection of golden eagles across Yellowstone’s northern range. Prior to Yellowstone, he started his work with golden eagles in 2003 on California’s Channel Islands and since that time has worked with the species throughout many parts of the western United States. His experience reaches well beyond golden eagles and includes other raptors, waterfowl, shorebirds, and multiple guilds of songbirds. When not working, Haines spends much of his time with his wife Dana, two young children Henry and Wylie, and dog LD.