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

Jodice, P.G.R., and R.M. Suryan. 2010. The transboundary nature of seabird ecology. Pages 139-165In Landscape Scale Conservation Planning (R. Baldwin and S. Trembulak, eds.). Springer Verlag.


Abstract: The term ‘seabird’ is generally applied to avian species that forage in the marine environment over open water. Seabirds typically nest in colonies and are long-lived species with low annual reproductive rates. Seabird breeding sites typically occur on islands or along coasts and as such are often at the boundaries of ecological or political zones. During the breeding season, seabirds cross a very distinct terrestrial/marine ecological boundary on a regular basis to forage. Even relatively ‘local’ species cross multiple jurisdictions within a day (e.g., state lands and waters, and federal waters) while pelagic species may transit through international waters on a daily, weekly, or monthly time-frame. Seabird life-histories expose individuals and populations to environmental conditions affecting both terrestrial and marine habitats. The wide-ranging and transboundary nature of seabird ecology also exposes these species to various environmental and anthropogenic forces such as contamination, commercial fisheries and climate forcing that also are transboundary in nature. Therefore, wherever conservation of seabirds or the management of their populations is the goal, consideration must be given to ecosystem dynamics on land and at sea. Because the jurisdiction of agencies does not cross the land-sea boundary in the same manner as the seabirds they are managing, these efforts are facilitated by multi-agency communication and collaboration. By their very nature and by the nature of the systems that they must function within, seabirds embody the complexity of wildlife ecology and conservation in the 21st century.