Ground-nesting marine birds and potential for human disturbance in Glacier Bay National Park

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Edited by: John F. Piatt and S.M. Gende


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Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve contains a diverse assemblage of marine birds that use the area for nesting, foraging and molting. The abundance and diversity of marine bird species in Glacier Bay is unmatched in the region, due in part to the geomorphic and successional characteristics that result in a wide array of habitat types (Robards and others, 2003). The opportunity for proactive management of these species is unique in Glacier Bay National Park because much of the suitable marine bird nesting habitat occurs in areas designated as wilderness. Ground-nesting marine birds are vulnerable to human disturbance wherever visitors can access nest sites during the breeding season. Human disturbance of nest sites can be significant because intense parental care is required for egg and hatchling survival, and repeated disturbance can result in reduced productivity (Leseberg and others, 2000). Temporary nest desertion by breeding birds in disturbed areas can lead to increased predation on eggs and hatchlings by conspecifics or other predators (Bolduc and Guillemette, 2003). Human disturbance of ground-nesting birds may also affect incubation time and adult foraging success, which in turn can alter breeding success (Verhulst and others, 2001). Furthermore, human activity can potentially cause colony failure when disturbance prevents the initiation of nesting (Hatch, 2002). There is management concern about the susceptibility of breeding birds to disturbance from human activities, but little historical data has been collected on the distribution of ground-nesting marine birds in Glacier Bay. This report summarizes results obtained during two years of a three-year study to determine the distribution of ground-nesting marine birds in Glacier Bay, and the potential for human disturbance of those nesting birds.

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Ground-nesting marine birds and potential for human disturbance in Glacier Bay National Park
Series number 2007-5047
Year Published 2004
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center
Description 5 p.
Larger Work Type Conference Paper
Larger Work Subtype Conference Paper
Larger Work Title Proceedings of the Fourth Glacier Bay Science Symposium
First page 196
Last page 200
Conference Title Fourth Glacier Bay Science Symposium
Conference Location Juneau, Alaska
Conference Date October 26-28, 2004
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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