2011 Washington At-Sea Marbled Murrelet Population Monitoring: Research Progress Report
 
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2011 Washington At-Sea Marbled Murrelet Population Monitoring: Research Progress Report

Category: Wildlife Research and Management - Wildlife Research

Date Published: May 2012

Number of Pages: 23

Author(s): Monique M. Lance, Scott F. Pearson, Martin G. Raphael, and Thomas D. Bloxton, Jr.

ABSTRACT:

In 1992, the marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) was listed as a Threatened species by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in California, Oregon and Washington under the Endangered Species Act and as Threatened by Washington State. A federal recovery plan was published in 1997 that outlined recovery strategies including developing and conducting standardized at-sea surveys. In addition to meeting the requirements of the Endangered Species Act, long-term marbled murrelet monitoring was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of the Northwest Forest Plan (Madsen et al. 1999), which is a large-scale ecosystem management plan for federal lands in the Pacific Northwest.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and other state, federal and private researchers have participated in a program to estimate marbled murrelet population size and trends between San Francisco Bay and Washington state since 2000. The information derived from this effort is the only information available to assess population size and trends in this geographic area for this species. This monitoring program uses at-sea line transects within 8 km of the Washington, Oregon, and northern California coastline in the area covered by the Northwest Forest Plan. There are five monitoring zones (Conservation Zones) throughout this range, two of which are located in Washington; Zone 1 includes the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound, Hood Canal and the San Juan Islands and is monitored by the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station; Zone 2 includes the Washington outer coast and is monitored by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Within Zone 1 there are three geographic strata defined by murrelet density and ecological factors: Stratum 1: Strait of Juan de Fuca; Stratum 2: San Juan Islands, Whidbey and Camano islands, Port Townsend, Admiralty Inlet, and most of Hood Canal; and Stratum 3: south Hood Canal and central/south Puget Sound. Within Zone 2 there are two geographic strata based on marbled murrelet density: Stratum 1 (north of Pt. Grenville) and Stratum 2 (south of Pt. Grenville). Each stratum is divided into primary sampling units (PSUs), which are roughly rectangular areas along approximately 20 km of coastline.

This report focuses on monitoring results from Conservation Zones 1 and 2 during the 2011 monitoring season (15 May - 31 July). As designed, all Primary Sampling Units (PSUs) in Zone 1 were visited 2 times. All PSUs in Stratum 1 of Zone 2 were sampled three times. All PSUs in Stratum 2 of Zone 2 were sampled once.

The marbled murrelet population estimate for all zones in the Northwest Forest Plan area (San Francisco Bay to the Canadian border) in 2011 was 22,581 (95% confidence interval 17,352 – 27,811). The population estimate has ranged from 16,798 – 23,673 over the 11 years of monitoring. The population estimate for Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca in 2011 (Zone 1) was 7,187 birds (95% confidence interval = 4,512 – 9,745 birds) with a 5.25% (standard error = 1.87%) average annual rate of decline for the 2001-2011 period. The population estimate for the Washington coast for 2011 (Zone 2) was 1,189 birds (95% confidence interval = 597 – 2,060 birds) with a 7.46% (standard error = 2.41%) average annual rate of decline for the 2001-2011 period. For Washington State (Zones 1 and 2 combined), there was a 5.76% (standard error = 1.42%) average annual rate of decline in murrelet density for the 2001-2011 period.

Suggested Citation:
Lance, M.M., S.F. Pearson, M.G. Raphael, and T. D. Bloxton, Jr. 2012. Washington 2011 at-sea marbled murrelet population monitoring: Research Progress Report. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wildlife Science Division and USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, Olympia, WA.