Cooperative Research Units
Education, Research And Technical Assistance For Managing Our Natural Resources
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The Gulf of Maine coastal ecosystem survey: an integrated, multidisciplinary effort to map biological hotspots in the waters of Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts (Collaborators: C. Loftin, S. McKinney, A. McKnight, A. Allyn, J. Runge, MDIFW, UMass, USFWS, BRI)


September 2013 - December 2018


The Gulf of Maine (GoM) coastal marine ecosystem is one of the most ecologically and economically productive ecosystems in the world.This coastal marine ecosystem currently faces threats on multiple levels, including climate change, wind energy development, and numerous competing uses of the system's natural resources. This study will collect data needed to inform these immediate management needs and increase our understanding of the GoM coastal marine ecosystem. We will conduct a multidisciplinary GoM coastal marine ecosystem survey, combined with focal research on life history parameters of target species, to acquire detailed measurements of the physical characteristics of the system and the distribution and abundance of organisms across all trophic levels. We will use these data to build habitat use models for SGCN in the coastal zone and calculate overall biological hotspot index values for locations throughout the coastal zone. This information will support spatial planning efforts and on-the-ground habitat management by delineating ecologically important areas. Detailed and repeatable measures of physical and biological factors within the coastal zone will also provide critical baseline data for monitoring and evaluating future changes to the region archived in open-source existing databases, to be used in long-term monitoring as well as for evaluating the effects of future changes.

Research Products and Activities

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • McKnight, A., D.B. Irons, C.S. Loftin, and S.T. McKinney. Common threads in seabird productivity patterns across two systems. to be submitted to Marine Ecology Progress Series
  • <u>McKnight</u>, A., D.B. Irons, C.S. <b>Loftin</b>, S.T. McKinney, and B.J. Olsen. 2020. Combined influence of intrinsic and environmental factors in shaping seabird productivity in a small pelagic gull, the Black-legged Kittiwake <i>Rissa tridactyla</i>. <i>Marine Ecology Progress Series</i>. 633:207-223. DOI:
  • <u>McKnight</u>, A., E.J. Blomberg, G.H. Golet, D.B. Irons, C.S. <b>Loftin</b>, and S.T. McKinney. 2018. Experimental evidence of long-term breeding costs in a colonial seabird. <i>Journal of Avian Biology,</i> 49: 1-14. Article DOI:10.1111/jav.01779; Data DOI:10.5061/dryad.qb3q5f3.
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  • McKnight, A. 2017. Population ecology of colonially breeding seabirds: How intrinsic processes,mediating influences, and individual heterogeneity affect population vital rates. Doctoral dissertation, University of Maine, Orono. 199 pp.


  • McKnight, Aly, C.S. Loftin, And S.McKinney. 2016. Does reproduction incur long-term costs in a colonial seabird? Presentation at the Gulf of Maine Seabird Working Group Annual Winter Meeting, Bangor, ME. 7 March.
  • McKnight, A., C.S. Loftin, and S.. Mckinney. 2016. Does reproduction incur long-term costs in a colonial seabird? Maine Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Annual Coordinating Committee Meeting, Orono, ME. 23 March.
  • McKnight, A., C.S. Loftin, and S.T. McKinney. 2016. Individual, colony, and metapopulation level drivers of seabird colony dynamics.” Poster, Maine Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Annual Coordinating Committee Meeting, Orono, ME. 23 March.
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Current Staff

Federal Staff: 95

Masters Students: 239

Phd Students: 144

Post Docs: 55

University Staff: 239

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 670

Scientific Publications: 1897

Presentations: 4193



  • Cynthia LoftinCo-Principal Investigator
  • Shawn McKinneyCo-Principal Investigator
  • Alyson McKnightStudent

Funding Agencies

  • State Wildlife Grants Competitive Grant Program


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey