Estimating species density and abundance is challenging but important for establishing conservation and management strategies. Significant progress has been made toward estimating Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) abundance in the conterminous United States of America (USA) but much less is known about eagle abundance in Alaska. Here, we paired migration count and GPS-tracking data collected near Gunsight Mountain, Alaska, in a Bayesian framework to estimate the number of Golden Eagles in south-central Alaska. We estimated 1204 (95% credible interval: 866, 1526) potentially breeding (≥4 yr old) Golden Eagles annually moved through the Gunsight Mountain migration corridor and summered over an area of 150,325 km2 in south-central Alaska, equating to a density of 0.80 potentially breeding eagles/100 km2. By extrapolating across the species' nesting range in Alaska (1,180,489 km2) and incorporating published productivity and age-specific survival rates for eagles <4 yr old into our hierarchical model, we estimated 12,717 (95% credible interval: 9043, 16,349) Golden Eagles of all ages occur in Alaska, annually. We propose this as a conservative statewide population estimate because we used methods that likely underestimated population size. Even so, our estimate is three to five times larger than previous estimates and likely represents about one quarter of the USA's population.

You do not currently have access to this content.