Expert opinion on American common eiders in eastern North America: international information needs for future conservation

Kristen Noel, Nic R. McLellan, Scott G. Gilliland, Karel A Allard, R. Bradford Allen, Shawn Craik, Anais Demagny, Matthew D English, Antony Diamond, Jean François Giroux, Alan Hanson, H. W. Heusmann, Laura E King, Christine Lepage, Heather Major, Daniel G. McAuley, Dustin E Meattey, G. Randy Milton, Jay Osenkowski, Anthony RobertsGregory J. Robertson, Marie-Claude Roy, Lucas Savoy, Mark L. Mallory, Kelsey Sullivan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    After successful conservation and management efforts throughout much of the twentieth century that led to the recovery of common eiders (Somateria mollissima) breeding in several jurisdictions in eastern North America, their abundance has declined in recent years, probably linked to various environmental stressors. To evaluate where to focus future research and monitoring questions to conserve the American common eider (S. m. dresseri) subspecies, we sought expert opinions of researchers and practitioners across the subspecies range, using two approaches. First, a workshop was held to share current knowledge on status and threats to eiders in the many administrative jurisdictions of the subspecies’ range. Second, biologists (university, government and non-governmental researchers, and resource managers) who work with or are responsible for management of American common eiders were surveyed, to gather responses on status and stressors of the subspecies in each respondent’s jurisdiction. Based on these expert opinions, we assessed what stages of the eider’s annual cycle (breeding, post-breeding, migration, and wintering) should be prioritized for future research. This approach of gathering expert opinion was timely and appropriate because: (a) many experts are field personnel with a wealth of relevant experience and observations, but are not mandated to produce peer-reviewed manuscripts; and (b) existing monitoring programs may not capture all of the up-to-date information necessary to make informed management decisions. Experts recommend that further research and conservation tools be implemented particularly for the migration and wintering stages of the annual cycle. Eiders have a cultural significance to many Indigenous peoples, conservation organizations, and local hunters, and eiders are a key bioindicator of the health of marine ecosystems. Consequently, these findings will help the development of conservation and management tools to help improve our knowledge and aid recovery efforts for this important sea duck.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)153-166
    Number of pages14
    JournalSocio-Ecological Practice Research
    Issue number2
    Early online date10 May 2021
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


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