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Photo of a successful nest on a mossy platform by Lynn Lougheed. Click to enlarge Photo of mossy nest platform by Cecilia Lougheed. Click to enlarge
  Photo of mossy nest platform by John Kelson. EN-002. Click to enlarge
Marbled Murrelets

Marbled Murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) are a species of concern for forest management in B.C. This seabird primarily nests in coastal old-growth forests using large branches for their nesting platforms. The Marbled Murrelet is distributed along the entire coast of B.C. extending from Alaska to California. The current estimated population for B.C. is approximately 66,000 birds. Provincially, the Marbled Murrelet is Red Listed by the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection and the Conservation Data Centre of the Ministry of Resource Management. Federally it is listed as threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. The main inland threat to Marbled Murrelets is rate of loss of nesting habitat. Marine threats include fisheries bycatch and oil spills.

Marbled Murrelets are protected under the Forest Practices Code as a species at risk in the Identified Wildlife Management Strategy, Biological account. Forest management consideration has also been given to this species through some higher level planning processes such as Land and Resource Management Plans, the Clayoquot Sound planning process, as well as through landscape unit planning.

Protection for Marbled Murrelets is also proposed federally under the draft national Species at Risk Accord (SARA). Additional protection is provided under several other Provincial Acts (Wildlife, Museums, Parks, Ecological Reserves, Fisheries and Firearms).

In keeping with the Ministry of Forests core function of ensuring the use of appropriate forest management practices to maintain and improve the long term sustainability and health of the province’s forest resources; the Research Wildlife Habitat Ecologist of the Coast Forest Region, provides consultation services to both the region and districts on the Marbled Murrelet and is involved with several initiatives that support improvement of our knowledge on Marbled Murrelet habitat use and status. These initiatives include:

  • Representative on the Marbled Murrelet Recovery Team (MMRT) which is currently working with the BC Ministry of Forests and BC Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection on a Conservation Assessment of the Marbled Murrelet. The MMRT will be updating the National Recovery Plan for the Marbled Murrelet during 2002.

  • Research partnership with Chair of Wildlife Ecology at Simon Fraser University, Canadian Wildlife Service, and University of British Columbia for studying Marbled Murrelets (nesting habitat, ecology, and demography).

  • Publications:

  • Nesting Habitat of Marbled Murrelets on the Sunshine Coast. EN-002

  • (September 1999).

  • Use of Airphotos to Identify, Describe, and Manage Forest Structure of Marbled Murrelet Nesting Habitat at a Coastal British Columbia Site. Technical Report TR-016, F.L. Waterhouse, R. Bradley, J. Markila, F. Cooke, and L. Lougheed. (February 2002).

  • Multi-Scale studies of populations, distribution and habitat associations of Marbled Murrelets in Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia. Min. of Water, Land, Air Protection. Edited by A.E. Burger and T.A. Chatwin. (March 2002).

  • Policy Implications of an assessment of long-term risks to Marbled Murrelet populations in British Columbia. Ministry of Forests Science Program. Extension Note 66 D.Steventon, G. Sutherland, P. Arcese (November 2003).

  • Long-term risks to Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) populations: Assessing alternative forest management policies in Coastal British Columbia. Ministry of Forests Science Program. Technical Report 012 D.Steventon, G. Sutherland, P. Arcese (November 2003).

  • Related Issues:

  • F.L. Waterhouse and R. Bradley. Ongoing pilot project. Use of low level remote photography (1:1500) to evaluate habitats at Marbled Murrelet Nest Sites.

  • Membership in the Pacific Seabird Group; an international organisation that has a Marbled Murrelet Technical Committee. This committee assembles researchers and other interested parties to integrate research objectives and methods, and share information on the biology of murrelets.



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    Comments to: Denis Collins
    This page last updated: December 23, 2003
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