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Status and distribution of the Kittlitz's Murrelet Brachyramphus brevirostris along the Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak and Aleutian Islands, Alaska

Marine Ornithology: Journal of Seabird Research and Conservation
By: , and 

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Abstract

The Kittlitz's Murrelet Brachyramphus brevirostris is adapted for life in glacial-marine ecosystems, being concentrated in the belt of glaciated fjords in the northern Gulf of Alaska from Glacier Bay to Cook Inlet. Most of the remaining birds are scattered along coasts of the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands, where they reside in protected bays and inlets, often in proximity to remnant glaciers or recently deglaciated landscapes. We summarize existing information on Kittlitz's Murrelet in this mainly unglaciated region, extending from Kodiak Island in the east to the Near Islands in the west. From recent surveys, we estimated that ~2400 Kittlitz's Murrelets were found in several large embayments along the Alaska Peninsula, where adjacent ice fields feed silt-laden water into the bays. On Kodiak Island, where only remnants of ice remain today, observations of Kittlitz's Murrelets at sea were uncommon. The species has been observed historically around the entire Kodiak Archipelago, however, and dozens of nest sites were found in recent years. We found Kittlitz's Murrelets at only a few islands in the Aleutian chain, notably those with long complex shorelines, high mountains and remnant glaciers. The largest population (~1600 birds) of Kittlitz's Murrelet outside the Gulf of Alaska was found at Unalaska Island, which also supports the greatest concentration of glacial ice in the Aleutian Islands. Significant populations were found at Atka (~1100 birds), Attu (~800) and Adak (~200) islands. Smaller numbers have been reported from Unimak, Umnak, Amlia, Kanaga, Tanaga, Kiska islands, and Agattu Island, where dozens of nest sites have been located in recent years. Most of those islands have not been thoroughly surveyed, and significant pockets of Kittlitz's Murrelets may yet be discovered. Our estimate of ~6000 Kittlitz's Murrelets along the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands is also likely to be conservative because of the survey protocols we employed (i.e. early seasonal timing of surveys, strip transects).

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Status and distribution of the Kittlitz's Murrelet Brachyramphus brevirostris along the Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak and Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Series title Marine Ornithology: Journal of Seabird Research and Conservation
Volume 39
Issue 1
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher African Seabird Group
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center Biology MFEB
Description 12 p.
First page 111
Last page 122
Country United States
State Alaska
Other Geospatial Alaska Peninsula, Aleutian Islands, Kodiak Island
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N