• INCORPORATING SMALL-SCALE GIS INTO LONG-TERM MONITORING STUDIES: A PILOT STUDY INVESTIGATING POPULATION PRODUCTIVITY OF THE RED-LEGGED KITTIWAKE (RISSA BREVIROSTRIS)

      Pylant, Cortney (2009)
      Red-Legged Kittiwakes (Rissa brevirostris) are small, cliff-nesting gulls endemic to the Bering Sea region. Of the four known breeding colonies, the island of St. George, the second largest of the Pribilof Island group, supports 80% of the breeding population annually. Despite a location in one of the most energy-rich regions of the western hemisphere, coupled with minimal depredation of nests and adult birds, long-term monitoring trends show low average reproductive success to complete failure. Although numerous studies have correlated changes in oceanic systems with the long-term decline of many seabird species, little effort has been allocated to understanding how alterations in nesting habitat affect population size. The dynamic cliffs of St. George Island provide a unique opportunity to examine this question by incorporating habitat mapping and small-scale GIS with long-term monitoring efforts and predictive modeling. The purpose of this paper was to investigate the effects of nesting habitat on the productivity of R. brevirostris, and to suggest new applications of small-scale GIS and predictive modeling. The information presented herein represents the initial phase of a pilot study; however, the potential for similar application may exist for a broad array of research endeavors currently underway. The incorporation of such analyses into monitoring and conservation efforts may provide new insight into the factors influencing population size, affording a more complete understanding of population dynamics and change.