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Development of a relational database and predictive modeling of seabird occurrence for the western Atlantic Ocean between Maine and Florida

(Poster in PDF: Development of a relational database and predictive modeling of seabird occurrence for the western Atlantic Ocean between Maine and Florida)

Wind-generated electricity in the marine environment promises to be an important source of renewable energy in the future, but is controversial because negative interactions between birds and wind turbines have been documented. To assist regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Mineral Management Service in evaluating the potential for adverse effects of wind facilities and other offshore activities on seabirds, we developed a catalog of bird occurrence datasets by compiling electronic and physical seabird data dating back to the early 1900’s. Survey data were collected using many different techniques and recorded in different formats; thus, we standardized this information to provide more consistent and interpretable data. To date, we have identified 70 datasets containing seabird observations and accumulated >400,000 seabird observations for this period and significantly expanded historic seabird observations previously available, especially from the southeast. Recent surveys have focused on small areas proposed for wind energy development, but renewed interest in large-scale surveys has expanded survey coverage. Future work will focus on linking these data with biophysical information to model seabird distributions between Maine and Florida using a hierarchical approach for select seabird species. Seabird prediction maps will also be generated for individual species to identify potential areas of high activity and possible conflict between offshore activities and seabird populations.

Contact Allan O'Connell for more information.

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