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Breeding seabirds in California, Oregon and Washington

January 1, 1995

More than two million seabirds of 29 species nest along the west coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington, including three species listed on the federal list of threatened and endangered species: the brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), least tern (Sterna antillarum), and marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus). The size and diversity of the breeding seabird community in this region reflect excellent nearshore prey conditions; subtropical waters within the southern California Bight area; complex tidal waters of Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound in Washington; large estuaries at San Francisco Bay, Columbia River, and Grays Harbor-Willapa bays; and the variety of nesting habitats used by seabirds throughout the region, including islands, mainland cliffs, old-growth forests, and artificial structures.     

Breeding seabird populations along the west coast have declined since European settlement began in the late 1700's because of human occupation of, commercial use of, and introduction of mammalian predators to seabird nesting islands. In the 1900's, further declines occurred in association with rapid human population growth and intensive commercial use of natural resources in the Pacific region. In particular, severe adverse impacts have occurred from partial or complete nesting habitat destruction on islands or the mainland, human disturbance of nesting islands or areas, marine pollution, fisheries, and logging of old-growth forests (Ainley and Lewis 1974; Bartonek and Nettleship 1979; Hunt et al. 1979; Sowls et al. 1980; Nettleship et al. 1984; Speich and Wahl 1989; Ainley and Boekelheide 1990; Sealy 1990; Ainley and Hunt 1991; Carter and Morrison 1992; Carter et al. 1992; Vermeer et al. 1993).

Publication Year 1995
Title Breeding seabirds in California, Oregon and Washington
Authors Harry R. Carter, David S. Gilmer, Jean E. Takekawa, Roy W. Lowe, Ulrich W. Wilson
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 81543
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center