Proposed Abstract Title

Winter Prey Fish Assemblages as a Driver for the Survival of Overwintering Piscivorous Seabirds in the Sidney Channel

Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

The Biological and Physical Factors Driving Marine Bird Population Dynamics in the Salish Sea

Location

2016SSEC

Description

Nearshore prey fish assemblages of the Sidney Channel Important Bird Area (IBA) were assessed with a beach seining study to determine the prey species available to overwintering piscivorous seabirds. Student volunteers and citizen scientists of the UVic Ocean Students’ Society are monitoring eelgrass habitats in seven sites across the IBA from November 2015 to February 2016. Strong variation in seabird feeding guild assemblages across the IBA have been observed by volunteers of the BC Coastal Water Bird Surveys since 1999. Correlation between abundance of the Tube snout and Sturgeon poacher with the Western grebe and Pigeon guillemot were observed in November and December. Additional trends will be revealed as temporal data are collected. Gravid forage fish are a critical component to seabird diets; the presence of spawning Surf smelt and Pacific sand lance in the near shore were estimated with the detection of embryos in upper intertidal sediments as part of the Forage Fish Program of Sea Watch Society. The suitability of either method to predict local piscivore abundance will be reported on in Spring 2016.

Vilchis et al. (2014) cite 50-90% declines in Georgia Strait piscivorous seabirds. The strength of spatial relationships between birds and their prey will offer insight into the suitability and potential of bottom-up approaches to seabird conservation. Summer prey species such as the Pacific herring leave the Salish Sea in winter months; determining which species remain during the overwintering period is critical for determining the suitability of an area for IBA status.

The beach seining effort of the Ocean Students’ Society is valued for the professional development oppurtunities it offers students. Field skills are invaluable to aspiring biologists who might otherwise be left stranded in a competitive job market. The connections that students and researchers have made on the beach are not ones they shall soon forget.

Comments

Literature Cited:

L.I. Vilchis, C.K. Johnson, J.R. Evenson, S.F. Pearson, K.L. Barry, P. Davidson, M.G. Raphael, and J.K. Gaydos, 2014. Assessing ecological correlates of marine bird declines to inform marine conservation. Conservation Biology, 20(1): 154-163. DOI:10.1111/cobi.12378

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 

Winter Prey Fish Assemblages as a Driver for the Survival of Overwintering Piscivorous Seabirds in the Sidney Channel

2016SSEC

Nearshore prey fish assemblages of the Sidney Channel Important Bird Area (IBA) were assessed with a beach seining study to determine the prey species available to overwintering piscivorous seabirds. Student volunteers and citizen scientists of the UVic Ocean Students’ Society are monitoring eelgrass habitats in seven sites across the IBA from November 2015 to February 2016. Strong variation in seabird feeding guild assemblages across the IBA have been observed by volunteers of the BC Coastal Water Bird Surveys since 1999. Correlation between abundance of the Tube snout and Sturgeon poacher with the Western grebe and Pigeon guillemot were observed in November and December. Additional trends will be revealed as temporal data are collected. Gravid forage fish are a critical component to seabird diets; the presence of spawning Surf smelt and Pacific sand lance in the near shore were estimated with the detection of embryos in upper intertidal sediments as part of the Forage Fish Program of Sea Watch Society. The suitability of either method to predict local piscivore abundance will be reported on in Spring 2016.

Vilchis et al. (2014) cite 50-90% declines in Georgia Strait piscivorous seabirds. The strength of spatial relationships between birds and their prey will offer insight into the suitability and potential of bottom-up approaches to seabird conservation. Summer prey species such as the Pacific herring leave the Salish Sea in winter months; determining which species remain during the overwintering period is critical for determining the suitability of an area for IBA status.

The beach seining effort of the Ocean Students’ Society is valued for the professional development oppurtunities it offers students. Field skills are invaluable to aspiring biologists who might otherwise be left stranded in a competitive job market. The connections that students and researchers have made on the beach are not ones they shall soon forget.