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Inside their hidden world: Tracking the elusive marbled murreletAuthor(s): John Kirkland; Teresa J. Lorenz; Martin Raphael
Source: Science Findings 213. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p.
Publication Series: Science Findings
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
PDF: Download Publication (4.0 MB)
DescriptionThe marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) is a threatened coastal bird that feeds on fish and nests in old-growth forests. In northwest Washington, murrelet populations are declining despite protections provided by the Northwest Forest Plan.
Wildlife biologists Martin Raphael and Tom Bloxton, with the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, used radio telemetry—the first study of its kind in Washington—to develop a detailed picture of the challenges faced by marbled murrelets. Teresa Lorenz analyzed the resulting data to gain further insights into the ecology of these elusive birds.
Between 2004 and 2008, the scientists captured 157 murrelets in their marine feeding grounds, fitted them with transmitters, and tracked their movements. They wanted to gain a better understanding of the birds’ nesting habitat, and as a result, be able to provide information that can contribute to conservation plans.
They found that factors on land and on water may be responsible for murrelet decline. Human activity on the water, coupled with the changing ocean conditions, likely affected the abundance of fish in the water. On land, a continuing decrease in nesting habitat is resulting in fewer nests, leading to lower rates of reproduction and a smaller population size. Although murrelet habitat in federal forests is protected, these areas tend to be farther inland than unprotected private and state forests in northwest Washington.
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CitationKirkland, John; Lorenz, Teresa J.; Raphael, Martin. 2019. Inside their hidden world: Tracking the elusive marbled murrelet. Science Findings 213. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p.
KeywordsMarbled murrelet, radio telemetry, population decline, Washington.
- Ecology and conservation of the Marbled Murrelet
- Northwest Forest Plan—the first 10 years (1994-2003): status and trends of populations and nesting habitat for the marbled murrelet.
- From trees to seas--Marbled Murrelet numbers are down
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