Miniaturized data loggers and computer programming improve seabird risk and damage assessments for marine oil spills in Atlantic Canada

Montevecchi, William A. and Robertson, Gregory J. and Fifield, David A. and Gaston, A. J. and Burke, Chantelle M. and Byrne, R. and Elliott, K. H. and Gjerdrum, C. and Gilchrist, H. G. and Hedd, April and Mallory, M. L. and McFarlane Tranquilla, Laura and Regular, Paul M. and Smith, P. A. and Wilhelm, Sabina I. (2012) Miniaturized data loggers and computer programming improve seabird risk and damage assessments for marine oil spills in Atlantic Canada. Journal of Ocean Technology, 7 (4). pp. 41-58. ISSN 1718-3200

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Obtaining useful information on marine birds that can aid in oil spill (and other hydrocarbon release) risk and damage assessments in offshore environments is challenging. Technological innovations in miniaturization have allowed archival data loggers to be deployed successfully on marine birds vulnerable to hydrocarbons on water. A number of species, including murres (both Common, Uria aalge, and Thick-billed, U. lomvia) have been tracked using geolocation devices in eastern Canada, increasing our knowledge of the seasonality and colony-specific nature of their susceptibility to oil on water in offshore hydrocarbon production areas and major shipping lanes. Archival data tags are starting to resolve questions around behaviour of vulnerable seabirds at small spatial scales relevant to oil spill impact modelling, specifically to determine the duration and frequency at which birds fly at sea. Advances in data capture methods using voice activated software have eased the burden on seabird observers who are collecting increasingly more detailed information on seabirds during ship-board and aerial transects. Computer programs that integrate seabird density and bird behaviour have been constructed, all with a goal of creating more credible seabird oil spill risk and damage assessments. In this paper, we discuss how each of these technological and computing innovations can help define critical inputs into seabird risk and damage assessments, and when combined, can provide a more realistic understanding of the impacts to seabirds from any hydrocarbon release.

Item Type: Article
Item ID: 1937
Keywords: Seabirds, Offshore, Oil spills, Risk assessment, Damage assessment, Bird-borne archival data loggers, Geolocation
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Biology
Date: January 2012
Date Type: Publication
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