The Unsolved Mystery of the Marbled Murrelet

The Unsolved Mystery of the Marbled Murrelet

The Unsolved Mystery of the Marbled Murrelet,” is from Hakai Magazine, which “explores science, society, and the environment from a coastal perspective.” It also recently was republished in High Country News.

“It was partially with the murrelets’ dire straits in mind that broad restrictions were placed on old-growth logging across 9.7 million hectares of federal land in the United States under the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan; individual states also curtailed the harvest on their lands to a lesser extent. In British Columbia, more than a quarter of nearly two million remaining hectares of suitable murrelet nesting habitat is on protected land.

“But the murrelets’ numbers haven’t climbed in response. The combined California, Oregon, and Washington population, with fewer than 20,000 individuals, continues to decline by as much as four percent per year. In British Columbia, where there may be closer to 100,000 murrelets, the population is declining by 1.6 percent per year. Even in Alaska, home to the greatest number of murrelets, scientists believe the population has declined by 71 percent since the 1990s, from around one million birds down to 270,000.”

Interesting points: “The terrestrial threats are as well understood as any, but marine threats are a complete mystery.”

And: “We strongly suspect that jays and crows can have a significant impact on murrelet eggs and chicks,” Rivers says. But why are jays and crows able to find the nests? It could be because the big trees murrelets use are too close to a forest’s edge, where jays and crows are more numerous. 



via A New Century of Forest Planning

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