About the Project

MPAs can benefit seabird populations both directly and indirectly. Direct benefits include reduced disturbance to breeding and roosting sites and decreased human interaction (e.g., bycatch, light attraction, gear entanglement) at feeding sites. Indirect benefits include reduced competition with humans for food resources and greater prey supplies resulting from increased prey production.

The overarching goal of the Baseline Characterization of Nearshore and Estuarine Seabirds study was to determine how seabirds are using coastal habitats inside and outside of newly established MPAs in the South Coast region. Researchers focused monitoring efforts on pelagic cormorants, Brandt’s cormorants, western gulls, black oystercatchers, pigeon guillemots, California least terns, and California brown pelicans because of their dependence on nearshore habitats and their susceptibility to human disturbances.

In this project, researchers from Point Blue Conservation Science evaluated seabird use of nearshore habitats for breeding, roosting, and foraging. The study examined foraging in estuarine and nearshore habitats, use of rocky coastlines for roosting, breeding population size and productivity, and disturbance at breeding and roosting sites. The results of this study provide a baseline to aid in future adaptive management of South Coast MPAs.


Researchers described their findings from this project in a technical report, released in March 2015. Click below to read the report on California Sea Grant’s website.

Final Report: Baseline Characterization of Nearshore and Estuarine Seabirds


Data from this project are listed below. You can also access the data through the OceanSpaces data archive, and learn more about each data package.