Landscape Level Modeling
Using existing data from historic Marbled Murrelet surveys, this element of the project aims to look at murrelet occurrence at the landscape level. Key questions include, how well occurrence can predict nest success, how nests are clustered across a landscape, how much overlap occurs between murrelets and their nest predators, and how these patterns have changed over time.
At sea Captures
During the breeding season, highly trained teams capture Marbled Murrelets off the water at night with nets. Birds are carefully inspected for health and morphology. Blood is drawn for DNA analysis and to measure stress hormones. Small VHF radio transmitters are attached to the backs of birds of sufficient size.
Marine and Terrestrial Space Use
Birds with VHF radio transmitters are tracked daily for the duration of the transmitter (at least 45 days) from the air and by researchers on the ground. This element of the project allows researchers to observe where the birds are spending time during the breeding season and track any movement to nest inland.
Nest Location and Monitoring
Tagged murrelets heading inland are tracked to determine nest location. A combination of radio telemetry and drones are used to locate nests. Specially designed surveilance cameras are placed in an opposing tree for a 24 hour video stream of nest activity.
Through this unbiased tracking, researchers will acquire crucial information including, where murrelets are nesting, how frequently they visit their nests, how easily and how far from the nest they can be detected by a surveyor, the success of nests, nest predators, and the diet of chicks.