Interior Population Trumpeter Swan Migration Ecology and Conservation

By David Wolfson, John Fieberg, David Andersen, Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and University of Minnesota

The Interior Population (IP) of trumpeter swans were extirpated in the 19th century and has been re-established to the western Great Lakes area of North America via translocations. Despite a successful reintroduction campaign, critical knowledge gaps exist for this population, including annual movements, migration patterns, and population genetic structure.

Starting in 2019, project partners from 6 U.S. states and 1 Canadian province deployed 119 GPS-GSM collars on trumpeter swans across the majority of the IP breeding range. We also tested swans for lead concentrations and took blood for genetic analyses. Preliminary results suggest that the IP experiences partial migration, where some individuals migrate in the winter while others don’t, and that the extent of migration strongly correlates with breeding latitude. Additionally, the timing of migration chronology differed by breeding status, with breeding adults leaving the breeding territory later in the fall, arriving earlier in the spring, and undergoing a shorter migration period than non-breeders. Ongoing analyses will describe annual movements, quantify the extent of gene flow and genetic diversity in the population (and contrast that with other populations of trumpeter swans), and assess the sub-lethal effects of lead exposure on wild trumpeter swans across the landscape.
An overview of the geographic scope of the project
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