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Gulf of Mexico Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species

Duration

August 2017 - December 2021

Narrative

Limited information is available regarding the species composition, distribution, and abundance of seabirds using the nearshore and offshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico. For example, to date there have been only three standardized and/or repeatable surveys for pelagic seabirds in the Gulf. The sparse data available on distribution and abundance of seabirds in the Gulf hinders both our understanding of seabird ecology and our ability to plan for or respond to data needs during oil and gas activities. Our goal is to conduct vessel-based surveys for pelagic seabirds in the northern Gulf. The research will satisfy a portion of the newly initiated Gulf of Mexico Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species (GoMMAPS). The study area includes the northern portion of the Mexico Basin which represents the approximate location of the EEZ of the USA. Beginning in 2017, we conducted surveys using NOAA vessels to assess the abundance and distribution of birds utilizing the pelagic environment. We are also developing additional components that would, if fully funded, use telemetry to document movement patterns of seabirds from both the nearshore and pelagic environments. Collectively, these data will permit spatially-explicit modeling of seabird abundance and distribution across the Gulf and provide a critical basis for understanding and addressing potential impacting factors in the region.

Approximate bounds of the study area for seabird surveys in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The red outlined polygon represents the area targeted for aerial surveys (not included as an objective in this proposal). The three large areas labeled Western, Central, and Eastern represent the three BOEM Planning Areas within the Gulf. Vessel-based surveys will occur throughout each planning area.

 

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 2

Masters Students: 5

Phd Students: 2

Post Docs: 1

University Staff: 2

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 11

Scientific Publications: 37

Presentations: 141

 

Personnel

Funding Agencies

  • US FWS & BOEM

Links

South Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Cooperators

  1. Clemson University
  2. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
  3. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  4. U.S. Geological Survey
  5. Wildlife Management Institute