This report investigates ongoing and future research needs to facilitate the management of forest nesting habitat used by the Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) in British Columbia. This is not an exhaustive review of the biology of the species, its nesting requirements, or management options. It is intended as a first step in renewed discussion on knowledge gaps and research needed to address those gaps and inform the Marbled Murrelet Recovery Strategy (Environment Canada 2014; Manning et al. 2019) and the British Columbia government?s implementation plan for the species (BCMFLNRORD 2018). Particular attention has been paid to considering how the predicted effects of climate change on forest nesting habitat may influence long-term management, and to the potential application of new technologies for studying the Marbled Murrelet and its terrestrial habitat. The report focusses on forest nesting habitat but recognizes that murrelets? use of this habitat is also strongly influenced by the availability of suitable foraging habitat in adjacent coastal seas. The strongest effects of climate change are likely to be experienced in this marine habitat, but reviewing those changes is beyond the scope of this report. There are, however, some suggested research options that combine research or monitoring in both marine and forest habitats. Predation is a major cause of Marbled Murrelet nest failure. This review considers only knowledge gaps that require research related to terrestrial habitat modification (e.g., edge effects) (Malt and Lank 2007, 2009; Raphael et al. 2018). Apart from a few nests found on mossy cliff ledges and large deciduous trees, most Marbled Murrelets that nest in British Columbia typically use canopy boughs of large coniferous trees in coastal forests, generally within 30 km of the ocean; this habitat is the primary focus for maintaining murrelet populations across the species? range in British Columbia (Burger 2002; CMMRT 2003; COSEWIC 2012; Environment Canada 2014). Nearly all the forest nests found in British Columbia were on mossy pads, and the development of mossy pads on canopy limbs is considered to be a key feature of required habitat (Burger et al. 2010). Scoring the availability of potential nest platforms (defined as mossy pads, limbs, or deformities > 15 cm in diameter) is one of the key elements of habitat classification (RIC 2001; Burger, Smart, et al. 2004). The factors that affect the availability of mossy platforms and the methods for identifying that availability are therefore one of the key issues addressed in this review.
Alan E. Burger, F. Louise Waterhouse, Jenna L. Cragg. 2020. Research Options to Address Knowledge Gaps on Marbled Murrelet Terrestrial Habitat Requirements. FLNRORD. Technical Report (FLNRORD). TR130