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

California Project

Characterizing the foraging ecology of marbled murrelets in coastal waters adjacent to old growth redwoods

September 2016 - June 2018


Participating Agencies

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Marbled murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) are highly threatened in the redwood region due to a number of factors including the loss of their old-growth nesting habitat, nest predation, and changes in marine prey resources. While extensive nesting habitat management and predator control programs have been implemented by the state and federal agencies responsible for murrelet conservation, it is increasingly recognized that changes in marine foraging conditions may interact with declines in nesting habitat to cause sustained low murrelet recruitment in California. Ensuring that adequate prey resources exist near nesting habitat and, more broadly, integrating forest and marine ecosystem management will be essential for maintaining viable populations of marbled murrelets in redwood ecosystems. Our objective is to characterize the species-level diet of marbled murrelets breeding in redwood forests by sequencing fecal material collected from individuals captured at sea. This work will continue our 15-year research project on the ecology and conservation of murrelets in the redwood region.