Return to Conservation Biology Research on Birds

Baker, R.J. 1999. Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program: 1994-1999. In: The Common Loon: population status and fall migration in Minnesota, Svingen, P.H. and A.X. Hertzel (eds.). M.O.U. Occasional Papers: Number 3. 8 pp.


The Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program (MLMP) is a long-term project of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Nongame Wildlife Program. Since 1994, nearly 1000 volunteer observers have annually gathered information about Common Loons in six 100-lake regions, or "index areas" of the state. The data these generous citizens collect provide the Nongame Wildlife Program with an early warning system for detecting changes in the numbers of these birds and the health of their lake habitats in Minnesota. In addition to reporting information about loons and habitat quality, observers also report on the presence of Canada geese on the lakes they survey.

An analysis of six years of MLMP data indicates that Minnesota’s Common Loon population remains healthy in both number of adults and number of juveniles observed within the index areas. Indeed, data from the Becker index area indicate a slight, but significant increase in that area's loon population. The abundance of loons varies greatly across the state, and is lowest in the southwestern (Kandiyohi and Otter Tail) and northeastern (Cook/Lake) index areas, and highest in the north central (Itasca) index area. The number of juveniles per two adults seen, a measure of reproductive success, also varies among index areas, but appears to be highest in the southwestern (Kandiyohi) index area and lowest in the northeastern (Cook/Lake) index area. Finally, data on Canada Goose abundance illustrate a dramatic increase in the southwestern (Kandiyohi and Otter Tail) index areas, but stable populations elsewhere.

The value of MLMP data is widely recognized by Minnesota's biologists and planners, and its results have been incorporated into several summaries of statewide ecological health, including Minnesota Milestones, Minnesota Environmental Indicators Initiative, and Water Management 2000. The Nongame Wildlife Program hopes to continue this effort into the future.

Full document (720 KB)

Back to top