Spatial Ecology of Brown Pelicans in the Gulf of Mexico

Spatial Ecology of Brown Pelicans in the Gulf of Mexico

Detailed Description

Conservation efforts are challenging for species of wildlife that are highly transboundary in their movements. Seabirds epitomize this transboundary challenge, regularly occupying terrestrial and marine ecosystems and often traversing state, regional, and international boundaries on a regular basis while foraging to provision chicks and themselves. Over the last 10+ years, the South Carolina Cooperative Research Unit has been collaborating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as with other state, federal, and international agencies to enhance understanding of the daily and annual movement patterns of seabirds. The South Carolina Unit has undertaken two extensive projects focused on the spatial ecology of Brown Pelicans. In the Gulf of Mexico, Juliet Lamb (former PhD student, now Marie Curie Fellow) used satellite tags to assess risk exposure of Brown Pelicans throughout their annual cycle, identifying temporal and spatial “hot-times and hot-spots”. In the South Atlantic Bight, PhD Candidate Brad Wilkinson is using satellite tags to explore Brown Pelican daily movement patterns and to model how their migration patterns may be affected by climate change. The SC Unit has also undertaken several efforts to track seabirds that breed in the Caribbean and southern Gulf of Mexico, but perhaps none more important than their work on the endangered Black-capped Petrel. This research continues to substantially expand knowledge of this endemic and enigmatic seabird, thereby identifying threats the species faces in United States waters as well as International waters. Information learned from these studies are being used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other resource management decision-makers that inform actions such as management of marine and terrestrial systems, provide key science information in species status assessments, and underpin science critical to oil spill planning and response.


Image Dimensions: 2786 x 3715

Date Taken:

Location Taken: US


South Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units