Tufted puffins are an iconic species in the Pacific Northwest
Tufted puffins are an iconic species in the Pacific Northwest that provide a wide range of ecological, economic, and historically important services such as ecotourism for local communities- and bringing marine derived nutrients to terrestrial habitats. Tufted puffin populations on the Oregon Coast have declined dramatically over the past 30 years from over 5,000 birds in 1989 to only 550 birds in 2021. In 2018, the tufted puffin Species Status Assessment determined that factors related to breeding site conditions are one of the most probable causes of puffin decline; however, little is known about the specific characteristics of nesting habitat along the Oregon Coast. To address this knowledge gap, we used aerial photography and ground truthing to examine changes in suitable breeding habitat for tufted puffins on the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge over the past few decades. Assessing how suitable puffin breeding habitat characteristics have changed over time will provide necessary information to guide refuge managers in habitat restoration and support adaptive management decisions.
Illustration by Carina Kusaka, Oregon State University. Permission agreement on file. Permission is granted for the USGS to reproduce the above-cited work at no cost.