Cooperative Research Units
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Response of nearshore seabirds to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill


June 2010 - December 2011


This research will be a component of the NRDA avian injury assessment at the Gulf of Mexico – Mississippi Canyon oil spill. We will oversee the capture, sampling, and placement of transmitters on targeted shorebirds, seabirds, and beach nesting birds. Telemetry will allow monitoring to determine the rate of mortality in sublethally oiled birds. The primary species of interest are brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), royal tern (Sterna maxima), and black skimmer (Rynchops niger). Satellite tags with activity sensors, VHF tags with mortality switches, microGPS tags, or geolocators will be deployed to evaluate survival and movement. The type of device deployed will be chosen based on the body mass of the individual. The mass of the device will not exceed 3% of the individual’s body mass. Whenever possible, carcasses of deceased birds also will be retrieved. Health assessments of individuals that are “sub-lethally” oiled also will be conducted. Parameters to be measured will include but not be limited to total polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), glucose concentrations, and inorganic phosphorus. Data collected will be used to estimate mortality rates of adult birds, determine movement patterns, and determine habitat use patterns.

Research Products and Activities


  • Evers, D., P.G.R. Jodice, P. Frederick. 2011. Assessing injury to colonial waterbirds from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Oil Spill Symposium, Waterbird Society Annual Meeting, Grand Island, Nebraska
  • Ferguson, Lisa; Jennifer Goyette; Patrick Jodice; David Evers. Post-breeding movements and habitat use of Black Skimmers (Rynchops niger) in southern USA. 2nd World Seabird Conference, Cape Town, South Africa

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 95

Masters Students: 238

Phd Students: 144

Post Docs: 54

University Staff: 239

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 673

Scientific Publications: 1905

Presentations: 4235



Funding Agencies



Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey