Volume 48, No. 1

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Refining remote observation techniques to estimate productivity of Black-legged Kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla in Resurrection Bay, Gulf of Alaska


1Alaska SeaLife Center, 301 Railway Ave., PO Box 1329, Seward, AK 99664, USA
2College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7220, USA


TANEDO, S.A. & HOLLMÉN, T.E. 2020. Refining remote observation techniques to estimate productivity of Black-legged Kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla in Resurrection Bay, Gulf of Alaska. Marine Ornithology 48: 61 - 69

Received 07 March 2019, accepted 06 November 2019

Date Published: 2020/04/15
Date Online: 2019/03/30
Key words: Rissa tridactyla, Black-legged Kittiwake, remote cameras, productivity methods, observation frequency, equipment methods


Monitoring the reproductive performance of seabirds can be challenging, as many species nest in remote locations and can be difficult to observe consistently. Using cameras for seabird monitoring in remote locations is an emerging method. Determining the monitoring frequency and type of equipment best suited for individual species, locations, and objectives is an important consideration due to different seabird reproductive strategies. To refine remote observation techniques for cliff-nesting seabirds, we tested a different observation methods on Black-legged Kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla in Resurrection Bay in the northern Gulf of Alaska. Kittiwakes were monitored during the breeding seasons (May-August) of 2013-2015 using remote video and still images. Our first objective was to determine if estimates of productivity changed with observation frequency; we used observations at one-, four-, and seven-day intervals. Our second objective was to assess the appropriate observation frequency for identifying important reproductive events (e.g., phenology). For this objective, we used a finer scale of observation frequency: one- to seven-day intervals. Our third objective was to identify if estimates of individual nest success differed between video and still-image methods. Results indicated that observation frequency significantly influenced estimates of productivity and reproductive phenology. We also found that estimates of individual nest success were comparable between video and still-image methods of monitoring. The results of this study demonstrate that remote camera methods of observing a cliff-nesting seabird were suitable for monitoring reproductive ecology and aspects of ecological interest, and that comparable estimates of productivity can be obtained through both still-image and video methods.


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