Date of Award

January 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Rebecca Simmons


The Franklin's Gull (Leucophaeus pipixcan) is a long distance migrant which is listed as a species of concern by U.S. state wildlife management agencies and in the Northern Prairie and Parkland Waterbird Plan for the U.S. and Canada. The designation of this status is due to few, isolated breeding colonies and unknown population dynamics. Few attempts have been made to address the unknown population dynamics or to quantify habitat use at breeding sites of this species. Recognizing there is a need for this information; this thesis uses deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) evidence to show the relationships of Franklin's gull breeding colonies across the U.S. as well as quantifies habitat use through geographic information system (GIS) and remote sensing technologies. This thesis describes data collected on population structure and habitat use of Franklin's gulls. I found Franklin's gulls in the breeding range of the United States are a panmictic population. It was found habitat use of Franklin's gull colonies at breeding sites depends on multiple variables suggesting landscape management to include wetland complexes is key to persistence of nesting colonies in the United States.