Marbled Murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) are small seabirds which forage in nearshore oceans and usually nest high in the canopy branches of large old-growth conifers within 30 km of the coast. Because of their reliance on old forest trees for nesting they are often in conflict with the coastal forest industry. The species is listed as Threatened in Canada, is on the British Columbia Red-list (species being considered as Endangered or Threatened), and is one of the Identified Wildlife species within the BC Forest and Range Practices Act. Loss of nesting habitat is the main cause for concern. Our study at UVic builds upon our continuous research on the murrelet on southwest Vancouver Island since 1990. Our group pioneered the use of high-frequency ship?s radar to count murrelets as they fly from the sea to inland nesting habitats, and comparisons of these radar counts with landscape-level measures of habitat area. We use Geographic Information System (GIS) software to analyse a wide range of habitat data relative to the radar counts and at-sea counts. These studies have been important in helping management and conservation of the murrelet throughout coastal BC. Monitoring of watersheds using radar counts provides the only reliable method for tracking changes in murrelet populations which might result from logging or changes in the marine environment. Our work in 2005-06 continues two major studies funded by the Forest Science Program in 2004-05. The first study applies our radar and GIS protocol to study 30 or more watersheds on southwest Vancouver Island. The second is a study by graduate student Rob Ronconi which combines marine and inland habitat information to understand the key factors affecting the distribution of murrelets, and predict how changes in these habitats will affect the murrelet populations. Our study provides information applicable to the entire BC range of murrelets.
Alan E. Burger ... et.al.
Burger, Alan E., Page, Richard E.; Ronconi, Robert A.; Hentze, Nathan; Sheppard, Rosanna A.. 2006. Habitat use by marbled murrelets on southwest Vancouver Island and implications for forest management. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program. Forest Investment Account Report. FIA2006MR244