Seabirds as Indicators


This Funding Announcement is not a request for applications. This announcement is to provide public notice of the National Park Service (NPS), intention to fund the following project activities without competition. ABSTRACT Funding Announcement P16AS00058 Project Title Seabirds as Indicators Recipient Alaska SeaLife Center Total Anticipated Award Amount 170,618.00 Cost Share 0.00 Anticipated Length of Agreement 3 years Anticipated Period of Performance 5/1/2014-9/30/2017 Award Instrument Cooperative Ecosystem Study Unit (CESU) Task Agreement Statutory Authority 54 USC 100703 CFDA # and Title 15.944, Natural Resource Stewardship Single Source Justification Criteria Cited Continuation Point of Contact Erica Cordeiro 907-644-3315 OVERVIEW Seabirds are a prominent constituent of the coastal ecosystem throughout Alaska. They have been considered valuable indicators of changes in coastal ecosystem processes because of their visibility, position within the food chain, diversity of life histories, and accessibility during the breeding season (e.g. Frederiksen et al. 2004, Piatt et al. 2007, Parsons et al. 2008, Einoder 2009). The diversity of marine birds represents a broad variety of foraging strategies and guilds, offering researchers opportunities to select study species that can be used as proxies or indicators of different food web and ecosystem components. Many of the seabird prey species are susceptible to changes in oceanographic conditions, including climate change and ocean acidification, and birds themselves are food for a large number of predators. Many seabird species are also susceptible to human disturbance, in particular oil spills, because they spend large amount of time at the surface of the ocean, in near shore waters or the intertidal zone, and forage on food items potentially susceptible to contamination. Many seabirds breed in colonies, which tie them to very specific habitats and locations during the breeding season, and disturbances and impacts at or near those breeding colonies can have a disproportionate impact on the seabird populations, and the ecosystem as a whole. Furthermore, their annual life history with migration between the marine and terrestrial breeding habitat positions seabirds as a linkage between the marine and terrestrial systems. Due to their biology and ecology, seabirds have potential to serve as informative sentinels and indicators of marine food webs and health of the marine environment, including climate change impacts on coastal marine ecosystems. As potential stressors to a system such as climate change, invasive species and other anthropogenic factors increase, understanding how a species or community is responding to those changes through changes in productivity and distribution is informative for resource managers trying to assess park or regional resources and appropriate management actions. With the exception of Sitka NHP, all the coastal national park units in Alaska have seabird habitat, and seabirds play a role in their coastal ecological processes. Bering Land Bridge, Glacier Bay, Kenai Fjords, Lake Clark and Wrangell-St. Elias specifically mention marine or migratory birds as resources worth protecting in their enabling legislations. Some parks support threatened and at-risk species for parts of their annual cycle, for example the Steller's eider (Polysticta stelleri). Our goal with the current seabird work conducted at the ASLC is to make it applicable to all the coastal parks. Many of the species in this research cross boundaries with multiple park units and occur in areas managed by other agencies. For example, some of our work is conducted on Common Murres ( Uria aalge) on Barwell Island, which is part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. Cape Resurrection, another study site for Black­ Legged Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla), belongs to the state. The coastal surveys cover the shoreline of Resurrection Bay and gather information from taxonomically diverse spectrum of marine birds, offering an opportunity to learn about factors affecting marine bird abundance in coastal marine habitats similar to many parks. In summary, the ultimate goal of our research is to evaluate marine birds as indicators of coastal ecosystem condition and change, applicable to a broader network of ocean parks and partner agencies. The results are useful to park resource managers making management decisions concerning not only birds but other marine life. This goal is complimentary to the NPS Inventory and Monitoring program (SWAN) which conducts complimentary work with the goal of detecting changes in seabirds that may occur within the nearshore environment over the next century and determine causes for the observed changes. In 2012 both the ASLC and SWAN became partners in a larger, integrated, ecosystem based monitoring program called the Gulf Watch Alaska Program. The Gulf Watch Alaska program spans an area from Prince William Sound to the KATM coast and includes the KEFJ coastline and Kachemak Bay. One of the key objectives of the program is to determine population abundance and assess population trends of marine birds in these areas. Our project is closely coordinated with and complementary to the broader Gulf Watch Alaska program. The NPS and other agencies possess data collected from Prince William Sound, Kenai Fjords and Katmai, but the data are collected on an annual basis and span a large geographic range. The ASLC uses the same methods, but collects data monthly and on the much smaller spatial scale of Resurrection Bay. Furthermore, our more intensive surveys therefore provide a means to assess the strength of NPS and other Gulf Watch surveys to detect changes in bird populations. In addition, because our surveys are conducted monthly, our data contain a seasonal component other data cannot evaluate. Along with our partners we suspect that several sea duck species are relying on coastal park resources to a great degree in the winter time, when very little data are collected in the parks. Our data will be shared with the parks and other agencies according!y. STATEMENT OF JOINT OBJECTIVES/PROJECT MANAGEMENT PLAN This research is conducted in the Resurrection Bay/Kenai Fjords area to complement seabird monitoring conducted in the Kenai Fjords region, Prince William Sound, and other coastal areas relevant to NPS. We have two main objectives. 1. Productivity of selected seabird indicator species in the Kenai Fjords area We will assess annual productivity in selected seabird species (Black-legged Kittiwakes and Common Murres) representing different life history and foraging strategies to establish baseline variability and determine interannual trends inproductivity. Our first goal is to develop and refine remote sensing technique for use to monitor and study seabird colonies in coastal parks. Our ultimate goal is to link annual productivity to environmental variability, and to evaluate its use as an indicator of environmental conditions in the coastal marine environment. This work is currently conducted using video cameras and remote sensing equipment installed on Barwell Island (monitoring of Common Murres) and Cape Resurrection (monitoring of Black-legged Kittiwakes). At Barwell, we aim to monitor 30-60 nests annually. We monitor incubation/brooding behaviors, and calculate productivity as numbers of fledglings per egg laid according to Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge protocols. At Cape Resurrection, we monitor a sub-colony of kittiwakes on 17 randomly chosen plots and a total of 149 nests. We monitor presence of adults/chicks, incubation/brooding behaviors, and nest presence. Productivity will be calculated as number of fledglings produced per nest attempt based on methods used in other studies on Pacific kittiwakes (for example, see Hatch 2013). Physical and environmental variables are collected using a combination of video observation, on-site still images, and on-line databases (NOAA, GAKl). Climate data has been obtained from online databases provided by NOAA, the long term time series GAKl, and a local weather station installed in 2014. Climate data obtained from NOAA comes from the Seward Airport and NOAA buoy station 46076, located in open water in the Gulf of Alaska. The Seward Airport reports air temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, and precipitation. Buoy 46076 reports air temperature, sea surface tempeqtture, wave height and amplitude, wind speed and direction, and. barometric pressure. The GAKl, located 1lkm from the colony, records water column salinity and temperature on a monthly basis using a CTD (conductivity-temperature­ depth) (Weingartner et al. 2013). Work is in progress to integrate kittiwake productivity data with environmental variables. For murres, we plan to summarize preliminary baseline data on productivity and provide recommendations for protocols and feasibility after the 2016 season. Results from this study will contribute to a Master of Science thesis, is presented at scientific conferences, and will be published inpeer-reviewed journals after data collection and analysis is complete. 2. Seasonal nearshore habitat use and trends of marine birds in the Resurrection Bay We will evaluate marine bird use of coastal marine habitats in the Resurrection Bay area using vessel based surveys to document trends and habitat use of marine birds. We conduct vessel based surveys along a transect at 100 m off shore using two observers and a data logger, and record all birds 100 meters to each side and above the boat. Surveys are conducted parallel to shore and transversely across Resurrection Bay once a month for up to 12 months a year. Data collected included: species, count, sex/age when feasible (sea ducks), age when feasible (alcids), weather conditions (cloud cover,.sea state on Beaufort scale, wind speed and direction, precipitation), and identification of primary and secondary observers. We will characterize seasonal and annual trends, link bird distributions with habitat characteristics from ShoreZone mapping data and identify habitat 'hot spots'. We will also aim to evaluate bird distribution in relation to seasonal events such as herring spawn in coastal marine environments. Finally, we will conduct double observer and repeat observation surveys in conjunction with NPS staff to calibrate our methods and to assist NPS with method validation for their broader scale coastal surveys. This work represents the 4th year of a 5 year study to evaluate annual variability and interannual trends in marine bird abundance and distribution, with 5 year data series complete in 2016. We will use these baselines to develop a long term ecological study focusing on the health of the nearshore intertidal and benthic system, linking invertebrate community health with marine bird indicator studies. We will need 2 more years of baseline survey data to accomplish this. Upon completion, results from this work will be available for use in park documents such as resource strategies, vulnerability assessments, State of the Park reports, monitoring designs and other planning documents and projects. Results will also be presented at scientific conferences and in a manuscript submitted to a peer-reviewed journal after data collection and analysis is complete. SINGLE-SOURCE JUSTIFICATION DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR SINGLE SOURCE POLICY REQUIREMENTS Department of the Interior Policy (505 DM 2) requires a written justification which explains why competition is not practicable for each single-source award. The justification must address one or more of the following criteria as well as discussion of the program legislative history, unique capabilities of the proposed recipient, and cost-sharing contribution offered by the proposed recipient, as applicable. In order for an assistance award to be made without competition, the award must satisfy one or more of the following criteria: (1) Unsolicited Proposal ⿿ The proposed award is the result of an unsolicited assistance application which represents a unique or innovative idea, method, or approach which is not the subject of a current or planned contract or assistance award, but which is deemed advantageous to the program objectives; (2) Continuation ⿿ The activity to be funded is necessary to the satisfactory completion of, or is a continuation of an activity presently being funded, and for which competition would have a significant adverse effect on the continuity or completion of the activity; (3) Legislative intent ⿿ The language in the applicable authorizing legislation or legislative history clearly indicates Congress⿿ intent to restrict the award to a particular recipient of purpose; (4) Unique Qualifications ⿿ The applicant is uniquely qualified to perform the activity based upon a variety of demonstrable factors such as location, property ownership, voluntary support capacity, cost-sharing ability if applicable, technical expertise, or other such unique qualifications; (5) Emergencies ⿿ Program/award where there is insufficient time available (due to a compelling and unusual urgency, or substantial danger to health or safety) for adequate competitive procedures to be followed. NPS did not solicit full and open competition for this award based the following criteria: Continuation ⿿ The activity to be funded is necessary to the satisfactory completion of, or is a continuation of an activity presently being funded, and for which competition would have a significant adverse effect on the continuity or completion of the activity; This agreement was awarded 5/1/2014. All funding associated with this agreement is based on the Alaska SeaLife Center continuing the current project.

General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Program Number
Federal Agency/Office
Agency: Department of the Interior
Office: National Park Service
Type(s) of Assistance Offered
Cooperative Agreement
Number of Awards Available
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Application Procedure
This is a notice of intent to award a modification to a continuing cooperative agreement with the Alaska SeaLife Center. Applications will not be accepted for this project.
Other Assistance Considerations
Formula and Matching Requirements
This program does not have cost sharing or matching requirements.
Who do I contact about this opportunity?
Headquarters Office
Erica Cordeiro 907-644-3315
Website Address
E-mail Address
Financial Information
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
Awards range from $170,618.00 to $225,000.00


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