Birds are important indicators of environmental health. In the case of the marine environment, seabirds are a key indicator of the state of the world's oceans.
Seabirds are threatened by a variety of human-driven factors:
As part of a three-year collaborative project funded by the Atlantic Ecosystem Initiative (March 2015 to March 2018), seabird distributional information (via at-sea tracking data) was combined with information about the distribution of breeding colonies (observed from 1996 to 2016) to construct colony-centered seabird distribution models for 13 species / species groups (Atlantic Puffin, Black Guillemot, Black-legged Kittiwake, Common Eider, Common Murre, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Leach's Storm Petrel, Northern Gannet, Razorbill, Roseate Tern, "Terns" (Common and Arctic), and Thick-billed Murre.
For more information about this project, please consult the following report:
In the marine environment of the Atlantic provinces, heavy sea traffic is thought to be a chronic source of oil discharge, of which even a tiny amount is capable of killing seabirds. The following paper summarizes the spatial pattern of small-scale oil pollution in Canadian maritime waters, based on aerial and satellite surveillance:
Recent GML work used state-of-the-art ensemble modelling to map the collective distribution of a number of common and widespread seabirds in offshore Nova Scotia (Black-legged Kittiwake, Dovekie, Northern Fulmar):
Much work remains to be done to better measure anthropogenic marine threats, and recent advances in ensemble-based modelling offer new tools for measuring changes in seabird distribution