Here are just a few of PRBO’s notable findings and accomplishments during the past several months. To learn more, please visit www.prbo.org.
First-ever San Francisco Bay State of the Birds Report. Habitat restoration is working, but climate change poses a major threat: these are among the major conclusions in an all-new report, released by PRBO with the San Francisco Bay Joint Venture in October 2011. Based on decades of monitoring, 29 partners detail the actions needed to keep birds and their habitats thriving as sea levels rise and extreme storm events increase due to global climate change. You can view and download the report at www.prbo.org/sfbaystateofthebirds.
Farallon Islands: Restoring California’s “Galapagos.” Thanks to PRBO’s collaborative protection efforts with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), northern fur seals returned to breed in 1996 at the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge for the first time in over 150 years. In 2011 at least 180 northern fur seal pups were born on the island, and this fall we counted 476 animals onshore—a phenomenal 69% increase over 2010! To further restore this national ecological treasure, USFWS is assessing options for removal of the destructive non-native house mouse population that threatens Ashy Storm-Petrels and other aspects of the island’s ecosystem. PRBO strongly supports this effort. To learn more, visit www.restorethefarallones.org.
Protecting Whales and the Ocean Food Web. From 2001 to 2010, 50 large whales are estimated to have been struck by ships off California. Our ACCESS oceans research partnership, co-founded by PRBO with the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Banks National Marine Sanctuaries, is identifying whale foraging areas within the Sanctuaries and making recommendations to the U.S. Coast Guard for modifying shipping lanes and limiting speeds to reduce ship strikes. During a July research cruise, we found a dozen humpback whales and 4,700 birds feasting on juvenile mackerel. In late September, however, we found an eerie absence of normally abundant seabirds, whales, and krill—but a massive bloom of plant plankton that we sampled for analysis. Our at-sea findings were fundamental to PRBO’s paper on marine food web hotspots in the California Current System, published in Ecological Applications this fall. The lead author was PRBO Quantitative Ecologist Nadav Nur; coauthors included California Current Group Director Jaime Jahncke and several other colleagues.
Birds as Indicators. Ryan Burnett, PRBO’s Sierra Nevada Group Director, presented to a “webinar” hosted by the U.C. Cooperative Extension and Society of American Foresters, on using birds to guide and evaluate ecological restoration of forests in the Northern Sierra Nevada. Fire is a natural and important element in this process. Chief Scientist John Wiens made a presentation on bird response to restoration at the International Meeting for the Society for Ecological Restoration in Mexico. Tom Gardali, PRBO’s Pacific Coast and Valley Director, was the lead author along with Wiens and other co-authors Holmes, Howell, and Seavy.
Adapting to Sea Level Rise and Storm Impacts. Two “Coastal Manager Scoping Workshops”—for the Our Coast Our Future project, led by NOAA Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, U.S. Geological Survey, and PRBO— engaged 55 habitat and government managers. They provided valuable input to make our forthcoming online decision support tool on sea level rise and storm impacts on the San Francisco Bay region’s outer coast as user friendly and useful as possible. More information is available at http://data.prbo.org/apps/ocof/workshop.php.
Palomarin Alumni Reunion. Coinciding with the 45th anniversary of our Palomarin Field Station, 135 people attended our first-ever intern reunion in September 2011. Former interns, now holding conservation positions in government, non-profit organizations, and academia flocked from across the continent. They paid tribute to our renowned intern training program at Palomarin and the decades of bird and ecosystem data that are improving conservation. Over the past 30 years, more than 1400 interns have graduated from PRBO’s acclaimed field biology training program. To sponsor an intern and make a difference for a lifetime, please contact Nancy Gamble at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-781-2554.