Seabird Sentinels of Marine Climate Change

Farallon Institute


Due to their existence at the boundary layers of the atmosphere and the ocean, seabirds are the most conspicuous of all marine organisms which rely on surface and near-surface ocean habitats. Seabirds also are less exploited than other upper level predators such as fish and mammals. Owing to these and other characteristics, seabirds have been put forth as reliable ecological indicators of coupled physical-ecological change. In this project we are investigating changes in the abundance, distribution, and spatial organization of seabirds in the California Current. In this study FI biologists make counts of seabirds from fisheries research vessels.

The seabird data is valuable for several reasons:

  1. Information on seabird/mammal distribution and abundance provides an upper trophic level perspective which complements the hydrographic and lower trophic-level (plankton) data collected by others.
  2. Estimates of seabird/mammal distribution and abundance contributes to understanding the spatial ecology of these regions.
  3. By extending our existing records (May 1987-present off southern CA; May 1996-present off central-northern CA), these data contribute to understanding the effects of natural and anthropogenic climate variability on the southern and central sectors of the California Current ecosystem.

Survey data reports are available on this page.

The project is supported by the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System and the California Current Ecosystem Long-Term Ecological Research project.

2335-Pacific Loon.jpgPacific Loon Brandt's Cormorant SE Farallon Island 06-22-08 183.jpgBrandt's Cormorant 3318-Elegant Tern.jpgElegant Tern 3323-Brown Pelican.jpgBrown Pelican 3483-Bonapartes Gull.jpgBonapartes Gull

Additional information is available through the Farallon Institute.

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