Every summer for the past 20 years, Dr. Eugene Potapov, a Bryn Athyn College biology professor, has traveled to the Sea of Okhotsk in eastern Siberia to track and study nesting Steller’s Sea Eagles, a larger cousin of the Bald Eagle.
In summer 2011 Dr. Potapov and fellow researcher Dr. Irina Utekhina surveyed the Steller's Sea Eagle population in the Magadan State Reserve in the Russian Far East. The research, which was funded by the Bryn Athyn College Summer Research Grant, examined nesting success of Steller's Sea Eagles in the Magadan region.
On September 15, Dr. Potapov spoke about his research at the Delaware Valley Ornithology Club.
Dr. Potapov's talk, entitled "Steller's Sea Eagle in the Wilderness: A Global Warming Sentinel?" discussed a noteworthy decline in nesting success of Steller's Sea Eagles breeding along rivers. Seventy percent of the eagle nests in eastern Siberia are located along seacoasts, where nesting success has been relatively constant over the past twenty years. But in the remaining thirty percent of nests, which are located along rivers, nesting has been declining significantly. Dr. Potapov’s research demonstrates that the decline in nesting success correlates with an increase in winter snow depth in proximity to the warming sea of Okhotsk. This, followed by a larger spring melt and severe spring/early summer floods, is consistent with the predictions of global warming models. The presentation discussed the natural history of Steller's Sea Eagles, arctic ecology, and the impacts of climate change.
This summer is not the first time Dr. Potapov's ongoing research on the Sea Eagle has caught the attention of the ornithological community. In 2009, ZooNooz magazine's lead story featured Dr. Potapov's research on Steller's Sea Eagle. | Read the ZooNooz article (PDF)
Photos of Dr. Potapov's ongoing research on Steller's Sea Eagle can be found here:
Photo: Dr. Potapov with an adult Steller's Sea Eagle to be fitted with a satellite-received transmitter.