Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: South Carolina
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

South Carolina Project


Spatial Ecology of Brown Pelicans in the South Atlantic Bight

September 2016 - December 2021


Personnel

Participating Agencies

  • USGS
Brown Pelican nest, Bird Key, SC

As a nearshore marine predator and species of conservation concern, Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus oddicentalis) in the southeastern United States constitute a valuable study population for investigating coastal ecological systems. Despite occupying a highly visible and elevated trophic position in estuarine and oceanic ecosystems, movement parameters describing habitat use patterns, foraging behaviors, and migratory corridors are undeveloped at multiple spatial and temporal scales. This study aims to address these information gaps by outfitting breeding adult pelicans with high-resolution GPS satellite transmitters, which will provide accurate locational data throughout the annual life-history cycle. We will use these data to (1) examine movement and behavior of individual pelicans during the passage of hurricanes, (2) evaluate the risk exposure of pelican colonies to ship-based oil spills within Charleston Harbor, SC, using modeling products developed by NOAA, (3) assess the usage of discarded bycatch from shrimp trawlers by adult pelicans in relation to reproductive output by pairing movement data with diet samples, stable isotope analysis, and chick corticosterone concentrations, and (4) investigate the drivers of partial migration in brown pelicans and subsequently model shifts in both migration probability and non-breeding range of brown pelicans under multiple climate change scenarios.

Research Publications Publication Date
Wilkinson, B.P., Y.G. Satge, J.S. Lamb, P.G.R. Jodice. 2019. Tropical cyclones alter short-term activity patterns of coastal seabird. Movement Ecology 7:30. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40462-019-0178-0 | Download 2019-11-30
Presentations Presentation Date
Wilkinson, B.P.*, Y. Satge^, J. Lamb*, P.G.R. Jodice. 2018. Behavioral responses of eastern brown pelicans to the passage of Hurricane Irma along the Atlantic coast. 2018. Pacific Seabird Group Annual Meeting, La Paz, Baja, Mexico. 2018-02-20
Wilkinson, B.P., and Jodice, P.G.R. 2019. Expansion of Brown Pelican diet associated with shrimp trawling effort in South Carolina. 43rd Annual Conference of the Waterbird Society, Salisbury, Maryland. 2019-11-07