Wildlife Acoustics Blog

Seabirds

Listening for Signs of Life: A case study on using acoustic monitoring to assess remote seabird populations

Biologist Luke Halpin

Biologist Luke Halpin:

“My research takes place in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida. Heritage Site in Haida Gwaii, an island archipelago off the west coast of British Columbia, 80km west of Prince Rupert. Haida Gwaii is home to 1.5 million breeding seabirds, including 50% of the global Ancient Murrelet population and large nesting populations of several other seabird species. Haida Gwaii is the only breeding location for Ancient Murrelets in Canada.

On Haida Gwaii, invasive rats are a major threat to the conservation of these seabird populations. In 2010, Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site began a large rat-eradication project called Night Birds Returning (SGin Xaana Sdiihltl’lxa, in the Haida Language) on a number of islands. As a component of this project, I used Song Meters to explore presence and relative abundance of four seabird species on rat-infested and rat-free islands. The species I examined, in collaboration with Dr Carita Bergman, Terrestrial Ecologist in the Parks Canada Agency, includes Ancient Murrelets Synthliboramphus antiquus, Cassin’s Auklets Ptychoramphus aleuticus, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels Oceanodroma furcata and Leach’s Storm-Petrels Oceanodroma leucorhoa."

Research Process

“I used the Song Meter acoustic data to assess the effect of rat presence on relative abundance of these nocturnal seabirds. I examined relative abundance and the seasonal colony attendance period from presence and absence data derived from the Song Meter acoustic recordings.

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