Species and Plant Community
Accounts for Identified Wildlife

Table of contents

MARBLED MURRELET (Brachyramphus marmoratus)

Status

The marbled murrelet is RED-listed and designated as THREATENED in Canada by COSEWIC. The main threat to this species is the loss of old growth nesting habitat. South of Alaska, the marbled murrelet is considered an old growth dependent species. Additional threats are oil spills and possibly gill net fishing.

Ecology

The marbled murrelet is a small seabird found in coastal areas of the eastern Pacific Ocean from Alaska to central California. It spends the majority of its time at sea, where it feeds on small ocean fish such as sand lance and herring. Unlike other members of the family Alcidae, the marbled murrelet nests on branches of old growth trees. The reproductive rate of this species is extremely low as only one egg is laid each year and nest predation by jays, crows and ravens is high.

Distribution

Ecoprovinces: Ecosections

Biogeoclimatic units

Breeding range

Nesting habitat for the marbled murrelet may occur up to 85 km inland from salt water, but is likely more important within 30 km of the ocean.

Nonbreeding range

The marbled murrelet lives at sea outside the breeding season. It is a common resident on salt water throughout coastal B.C., although densities vary widely within and between years.

Habitat requirements

Broad ecosystem units


Structural stage

7: old forest (>250 years - age class 9, but 8 is acceptable if older forest is not present)

Critical habitats and habitat features

Marbled murrelets nest in mature large trees (i.e., 37-55 m in CWH and CDF, and 28-37 m in MH). Large (>50 m) Sitka spruce, Douglas-fir, western hemlock and western redcedar and large (>30 m ) yellow-cedar and mountain hemlock are important.
Marbled murrelets select large limbs higher than 15 m above the ground with platforms greater than 18 cm across (branch and moss combined). Dwarf mistletoe, growth deformities that create nesting platforms (e.g., broken tops, multiple leader trees), and moss covered branches are assets.

Selected references

Burger, A.E. 1995a. Marine distribution, abundance, and habitats of marbled murrelets in
British Columbia. In Ecology and conservation of the marbled murrelet. C.J. Ralph, G.L. Hunt Jr., M. Raphael and J.F. Piatt (eds.). USDA For. Serv., Albany, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-152. pp. 295-312.

_____. 1995b. Inland habitat associations of marbled murrelets in British Columbia. In
Ecology and conservation of the marbled murrelet. C.J. Ralph, G.L. Hunt Jr., M. Raphael and J.F. Piatt (eds.). USDA For. Serv., Albany, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-152. pp. 151-161.

Kaiser, G.W., H.J. Barclay, A.E. Burger, D. Kangasniemi, D.J. Lindsay, W.T. Munro,
W.R. Pollard, R. Redhead, J. Rice and D. Seip. 1992. National recovery plan for the marbled murrelet. Recovery of Nationally Endangered Wildlife Committee, Ottawa, ON. Rep. No. 8.

Mahon, T.E., G.W. Kaiser and A.E. Burger. 1992. The role of marbled murrelets in
mixed-species feeding flocks in British Columbia. Wilson Bull. 104:738-743.

Ralph, C.J., G.L. Hunt Jr., M. Raphael and J.F. Piatt (eds.) 1995. Ecology and
conservation of the marbled murrelet. USDA For. Serv., Albany, CA. Gen. Tech.
Rep. PSW-GTR-152.

Ralph, C.J., S.K. Nelson, M.M. Shaughnessy, S.L. Miller and T.E. Hamer. 1994.
Methods for surveying for marbled murrelets in forests: a protocol for land
management and research. Pacific Seabird Group Tech. Pap. No. 1. (Available
from) Redwood Sciences Laboratory, U.S. For. Serv., Arcata, CA.

Resources Inventory Committee. 1995 (draft). Standardized inventory methodologies for
components of British Columbia's biodiversity: Marbled murrelets in marine and terrestrial habitats. B.C. Min. Environ., Lands and Parks, Victoria, B.C.

Rodway, M.S., H.R. Carter, S.G. Sealy and R.W. Campbell. 1992. Status of the marbled
murrelet in British Columbia. Proc. West. Found. Vertebr. Zool. 5:17-41.

Rodway, M.S., H.M. Regehr and J.-P. Savard. 1993a. Activity levels of marbled murrelets in different inland habitats in the Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia. Can. J. Zool. 71:977-984.

_____. 1993b. Activity patterns of marbled murrelets in old-growth forest in the Queen
Charlotte Islands, British Columbia. Condor 95:831-848.

Stathers, R.J., T.P. Rollerson and S.J. Mitchell. 1994. Windthrow Handbook for British
Columbia Forests. B.C. Min. For., Res. Br., Victoria, B.C. Work. Pap. 9401.


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