We report research undertaken on south-west Vancouver Island in 2004-05 on Marbled Murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) a Threatened seabird which nests in the canopies of coastal old-growth forests. Our results are summarised here relative to the five primary objectives of our Forest Science Program 2004-05 project. Objective 1 - Radar surveys: In May-July 2004 we did 43 dawn radar surveys at 27 stations and a similar number of dusk surveys. With pooled data from 2002 and 2003 we covered 45 stations, 72 flight paths (some sites allowed tracking of >1 flight path), and 98 surveys including over 20,000 murrelet detections. We considered that 38 flight paths at 35 stations provided reliable baseline data for long-term monitoring of murrelets. Of these, 29 watersheds were suitable for habitat analysis; mean counts here totalled 4,323 murrelet, recorded in 86 surveys. Our past radar data were used in two journal papers (1 published, 1 in prep.). Objective 2 GIS habitat database: Dr Rick Page was hired Jan 05 as GIS specialist and a work-station established in the Spatial Analysis Lab, Geography Dept., UVic. GIS databases were established including: Forest Cover data from Vegetation Resource Inventory (VRI); digital elevation raster from Gridded DEM; Landsat MSS images analysed by the Sierra Club/Wilderness Society; Biogeoclimatic (BEC) data; watershed boundaries, lakes and streams from the BC Watershed Atlas; Marbled Murrelet habitat algorithm applied to forest cover data; and spatially linked murrelet count data. Considerable time was spent in negotiating the use of data, integrating these data, correcting errors, and making adjustments to match NAD 83 spatial reference. Objective 3 Landscape-level habitat analysis: Preliminary habitat maps were plotted with GIS and analysed with murrelet count data. We found a significant positive correlation between murrelet counts and habitat area per watershed but the relationship had modest predictability (R2 ~0.2) and showed a wide scatter of points. A draft journal paper was completed on habitat associations, but will be revised following our 2005 work. Modelling using hydrology tools in ARCGIS was initiated to model likely murrelet flight paths and improve estimates of catchment areas relevant to the radar stations. Objective 4 Marine/Inland integration: Grad student Rob Ronconi completed a full field season in 2004 and then continued his analysis of data. Preliminary models show strong aggregations of murrelets at hot-spots off SW Vancouver Island. Analysis of field data, including fine-scale mapping data (theodolite surveys), hydroacoustic prey surveys, and activity-time budgets of foraging murrelets was completed and preliminary results presented at conferences and in reports. This work continues in 2005. Objective 5 Apply results in management: An extension note on our radar methods was published via FORREX. A web site was established to provide research information and reports. In 2004-05 our team presented 12 papers at conferences and other meetings, participated in 13 meetings of the Marbled Murrelet Recovery Team and Habitat Recovery Implementation Group, drafted most of the Marbled Murrelet Recovery Plan and Recovery Action Plan, contributed to UBC murrelet monitoring workshop, helped draft a radar monitoring protocol, and helped review the US NW Forest Plan. We worked directly with forest and wildlife managers in industry and MOF, MWLAP, MSRM, BC Timber Sales, CWS, Parks Canada, BC Conservation Data Centre and consultants.
Alan E. Burger...[et al.]
Burger, Alan E., Chatwin, Trudy A.; Cullen, S.A.; Holmes, N.P.; Manley, Irene A.; Mather, M.H.; Schroeder, Bernard K.; Steventon, J. Douglas; Duncan, J.E.; Arcese, Peter; Selak, E.; Page, Richard E.; Ronconi, Robert A.; Conroy, Catherine J.. 2005. Habitat use by Marbled Murrelets on southwest Vancouver Island and implications for forest management: final report to Forest Science Program and Price-Waterhouse-Coopers for the year 2004-2005. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program. Forest Investment Account Report