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Title: Marine habitat selection by marbled murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) during the breeding season

Author: Lorenz, Teresa J.; Raphael, Martin G.; Bloxton, Thomas D.; Hagen, Christian Andrew;

Date: 2016

Source: PLOS ONE. 11(9): e0162670-.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: The marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) is a declining seabird that is wellknown for nesting in coastal old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest. Most studies of habitat selection have focused on modeling terrestrial nesting habitat even though marine habitat is believed to be a major contributor to population declines in some regions. To address this information gap, we conducted a 5-year study of marine resource selection by murrelets inWashington, which contains a population experiencing the steepest documented declines and where marine habitat is believed to be compromised. Across five years we tracked 157 radio-taggedmurrelets during the breeding season (May to August), and used discrete choice models to examine habitat selection. Using an information theoretic approach, our global model had the most support, suggesting thatmurrelet resource selection at-sea is affected by many factors, both terrestrial and marine. Locations with higher amounts of nesting habitat (β = 21.49, P < 0.001) that were closer to shore (β = -0.0007, P < 0.001) and in cool waters (β = -0.2026, P < 0.001) with low footprint (β = -0.0087, P < 0.001) had higher probabilities of use. While past conservation efforts have focused on protecting terrestrial nesting habitat, we echo many past studies calling for future efforts to protect marine habitat for murrelets, as the current emphasis on terrestrial habitat alone may be insufficient for conserving populations. In particular, marine areas in close proximity to old-growth nesting habitat appear important for murrelets during the breeding season and should be priorities for protection.

Keywords: Brachyramphus marmoratus, discrete choice model, human footprint, old-growth forest,

Publication Notes:

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

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Lorenz, Teresa J.; Raphael, Martin G.; Bloxton, Thomas D.; Hagen, Christian Andrew 2016. Marine habitat selection by marbled murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) during the breeding season. PLOS ONE. 11(9): e0162670-.

 


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