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Temporal variability in abundance of Marbled Murrelets at sea in southeast Alaska

January 1, 2000

We examined effects of season, time of day, tide stage, tidal oscillation, and sea surface temperature on Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) abundance and distribution at sea. We also evaluated whether constraining surveys to specific time periods or tide stages would reduce temporal variability in counts. Murrelets were surveyed daily from small boats and from shore in Auke Bay and Fritz Cove, Alaska, from May through August in 1992 and 1993. Murrelet numbers were high before egg-laying, declined by more than half during egg-laying and incubation and were highly variable during chick-rearing and fledging. Murrelet numbers were highest in early and late morning and declined throughout the day, sometimes increasing slightly in the evening. Peak murrelet numbers occurred on high or falling morning tides, especially in shallow areas where Pacific sand lance (Ammodytes hexapterus) were abundant. Differences between years in murrelet abundance and breeding phenology probably resulted from interannual differences in the pattern of seasonal warming and subsequent effects on production at lower trophic levels. We recommend that surveys for trends in abundance in Southeast Alaska be conducted in early morning, in June, at high or falling tides. Power analyses indicated that surveys conducted in this manner would minimize the number of years required to detect a significant change in abundance.

Publication Year 2000
Title Temporal variability in abundance of Marbled Murrelets at sea in southeast Alaska
DOI 10.2307/1522174
Authors Suzann G. Speckman, Alan M. Springer, John F. Piatt, Dana Thomas
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Waterbirds
Index ID 70185320
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Science Center