Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Marbled Murrelets' numbers decline

A recent U.S. Geological Survey review of Marbled Murrelets found a 70 percent decrease in the number of birds in Alaska and Canada. The unusual sea bird nests up to 50 miles inland on the branch of an old-growth fir or hemlock.

USGS sea bird biologist John F. Piatt, lead author of the review, said none of the known human-caused threats to marbled murrelets — loss of nesting trees to logging, getting caught in gillnets, and oil spills — can by themselves explain the dramatic and widespread decline, particularly in Alaska.

"Nobody was really expecting that kind of change," Piatt said from Port Townsend, Washington. "Natural influences may be more important than human-caused," changes.

Even areas like Alaska's Glacier Bay, where there has been no logging, saw dramatic declines, raising the likelihood that something larger was a major factor, he said.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


Blogger Leigh said...

I'm not convinced the cause isn't human influenced quite yet. Considering that these are birds that feed in the water, it's possible that over-fishing, or our fishing techniques are causing a decrease in their food supply and thus causing the decline.

February 08, 2007 3:04 PM  

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