Date of this Version
Proceedings of the North American Crane Workshop 13: 64
The Siberian crane (Grus leucogeranus) is the third rarest crane species in the world with a breeding range now centered on 3 core areas and a buffer zone in the arctic of northern Yakutia in northeastern Russia. During 16 July-2 August 2009, we undertook ground surveys within the Khroma River core breeding area, surrounding buffer zone, and lands lying to the west of the known breeding range to estimate densities and determine habitat use and social status of Siberian cranes. A total of 142 Siberian cranes were sighted (including 55 pairs) at 54 locations with 32 cranes (including 13 pairs) sighted outside the currently known breeding range in the lower drainages of the Syalakh and Syuryuktyakh Rivers. After adjusting for a probability of detection of 0.484 (95% CI = 0.281-0.833), Siberian crane densities in the Khroma core area and the buffer zone averaged 0.0921 cranes/km2 and 0.0363 cranes/km2, respectively. A majority of cranes (n = 93 [65%]) occurred in complexes of large basin wetlands, with use centered in those having extensive beds of pendant grass (Arctophila fulva). Of the 142 cranes seen, 110 (77%) were paired, 21 (15%) were singles, and 11 (8%) were in groups of 3-5. The Khroma core supports 1 of 2 large concentrations of breeding Siberian cranes remaining in the wild; therefore, we recommend that consideration be given to designating a nature reserve that would encompass the Khroma core, adjacent buffer zone, and lands to the west (including coastal tundra areas along the lower drainages of the Syalah and Syuryuktyah Rivers). Further research is needed to gain additional insight into Siberian crane distribution and numbers on lands beyond the currently delineated western boundary of the Siberian crane breeding range in the Ust-Yana District of northern Yakutia. Important gaps remain in information needed to effectively guide conservation efforts for the Eastern Population, and recent advances in remote tracking technology offer potential opportunities to help address several key information needs.