Seabirds are the focus of this project. Scientists will quantify their numbers and locations along the North Coast, as well as their reproductive rates, diet and related interannual variance at select colonies to identify how these important marine predators are being affected by the new MPAs, human disturbance and ever-changing ocean conditions. Species of interest include the common murre, Brandt’s cormorant, double-crested cormorant, pelagic cormorant, Western gull and pigeon guillemot. The project’s four main objectives are to: 1) provide a region-wide census of seabird breeding populations through aerial surveys of their breeding colonies; 2) document trends in seabird breeding population sizes at two sites using existing photographs of birds taken from 1996-2013; 3) assess seabird diets and reproductive success at Castle Rock, the largest seabird colony in the region; and 4) document foraging and roosting of key seabird species, as well as incidences of breeding and roosting seabirds being disturbed by human activities. The resulting baseline characterization will serve as a foundation for assessing initial and long-term responses of seabirds to their environment and the new MPAs. The project is a collaboration among academic scientists, federal wildlife officials, citizen scientists, a private research center and an environmental consulting company.
Baseline Characterization of Seabirds