Integrating community science data with long-term aerial surveys to understand seasonal and long-term shifts in marine bird use of Puget Sound


PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Sarah Converse (United States Geological Survey/University of Washington)

CO-INVESTIGATORS: Cynthia Easterson (Puget Sound Bird Observatory), Matthew Farr (University of Washington), Toby Ross (Puget Sound Bird Observatory), Kyle Spragens (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)


The recovery status of Puget Sound is tied to its ecosystem health, which is quantified by the Puget Sound Partnership’s Vital Signs and associated indicators. One indicator of ecosystem health, marine bird abundance, is undergoing declines due to unidentified threats, presenting a challenge to managers. There is an urgent need to identify and quantify potential threats to Puget Sound marine bird populations, including anthropogenic disturbances and climatic and other environmental factors. Uncertainty regarding the threats to marine bird populations and their relative importance inhibits coordinated and efficient responses from management agencies.

This project aims to support ongoing robust assessments of the status and trends of marine bird species in Puget Sound through the application of long-term monitoring data and customized quantitative methods. The project also aims to promote conservation of Puget Sound marine birds and recovery of Puget Sound’s ecosystem health by creating a sense of connection in the Puget Sound community through community science and sustained outreach. This work will provide managers with concrete information about drivers of marine bird populations, establish methods for long-term assessments, and strengthen the engagement of community science volunteers.