Paper: A model approach for estimating colony size, trends and habitat associations of burrow-nesting seabirds

Rhinoceros Auklet carrying sand lance. Photo by Peter Hodum.
Rhinoceros Auklet carrying sand lance. Photo by Peter Hodum.

A paper in the May 2013 issue of The Condor [115(2):356–365, 2013] describes a repeatable and statistically robust approach to monitoring burrow nesting seabirds in the Salish Sea and the California Current that can be applied at single- or multi-island scales. The approach can be applied to both relatively common and important members of the seabird community like the Rhinoceros Auklet and to species of conservation concern like the Tufted Puffin.

The authors provide an approach for simultaneously gathering and identifying habitat information that influences burrow density. This habitat information can in turn be used to inform restoration activities or it can be used to provide insights into observed colony trends.

Specifically, this paper compares "the density and occupancy of burrows of the Rhinoceros Auklet (Cerorhinca monocerata) at nesting colonies in the California Current and the Salish Sea and in the 1970s, 1980s, and today." Data suggests that Salish Sea populations have increased by 52% since that time, but the authors write that "some of the estimated changes between the periods could be the result of methodological and analytical differences."

Citation: The Condor 115(2):356–365 

Authors: Scott F. Pearson1, Peter J. Hodum2, Thomas P. Good3, Michael Schrimpf 4and Shannon M. Knapp 1

1Wildlife Research Division, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 1111 Washington St. SE, Olympia, WA 98501

2Biology Department, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA 98416

3NOAA Fisheries, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Seattle, WA 98112

4School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and Biology Department, University of Washington, Seattle WA 98195

About the Author: 
Dr. Joe Gaydos is the Chief Scientist for the SeaDoc society, a marine ecosystem health program of the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center. He serves as a member of the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound editorial board.