• Open Access

Accounting for uncertainty in oil and gas development impacts to wildlife in Alaska


  • Editor Atte Moilanen


Ryan R. Wilson, The Wilderness Society, 705 Christensen Dr., Anchorage, AK 99501, USA.

Tel: +907-786-3830;

fax: 907-272-1670.

E-mail: ryan.radford.wilson@gmail.com


Around the world, oil and gas exploration and development are moving into areas previously undisturbed by industrial development. These activities and associated infrastructure can significantly impact wildlife populations and their habitat. Uncertainty in the location of oil and gas accumulations, however, makes it difficult to assess potential impacts to wildlife populations from future development. We present a modeling approach that takes this uncertainty into account by randomly sampling the locations of oil and gas accumulations across the landscape and building out simulated infrastructure. We evaluated four management alternatives outlined for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska to demonstrate how this model can quantify the relative impacts to caribou (Rangifer tarandus) calving habitat and passerine nest survival. We were able to identify clear differences in impacts for wildlife under the four alternatives and highlighted the range of variability in how development might proceed under each scenario.