Tracking Atlantic and Caribbean Seabirds (TRACS)

Many species of seabirds breeding in the Caribbean occupy waters off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the US during some portion of the annual cycle. As marine spatial planning becomes a pressing issue in the region, data are needed to enhance our understanding of the seabird community in the South Atlantic Bight and the Gulf of Mexico. Although current ship-based and aerial surveys are the standard methods used to measure abundance and distribution of birds at sea, each is a population-based survey that provides information without regard to individual variability or colony of origin. We are deploying tracking devices to measure movement patterns of seabirds in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and Northwest Atlantic. Data from individual tracking efforts will allow us to assess variability in movements and use patterns, fidelity to specific marine locations, and the relationship between marine use areas and breeding locations and population trends at the breeding grounds. To date, we have collected tracking data from six species of pelagic seabirds in Mexico, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, The Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, St Eustatius and Tobago in collaboration with federal agencies, and local Universities and NGOs.


Our research builds upon tracking work we initiated in the Bahamas in 2008-2010 and also reinforces the Capacity Building project we initiated in the Caribbean.

Research
Collaborators

Patrick Jodice, USGS South Carolina Cooperative Research Unit / Clemson University

Will Mackin, Guilford College

Hannah Madden, St. Eustatius National Parks

Yvan Satgé, South Carolina Cooperative Research Unit / Clemson University

Autumn-Lynn Harrison, Smithsonian Institute

Ernst Rupp, Grupo Jaragua

Adriana Vallarino Moncada, Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados Unidad Mérida

Ken Meyer, Avian Research and Conservation Institute

Susan Zaluski, Jost van Dyke Preservation Society

Louise Soanes, University of Liverpool

Graduate students:

Caroline Poli (MS) Clemson University

Hannah Madden (MS) University of West Indies

 

Funding

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, American Bird Conservancy, Avian Research & Conservation Institute, Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. American Bird Conservancy, Mohammed bin Zayed Fund for Species Conservation, Cary and David Paynter through the H. Smith Richardson Jr. Charitable Lead Annuity Trust, Jeff Rusinow, The Nature Conservancy, Stuart & Lynn White, BirdsCaribbean, the Neotropical Bird Club, Voltaic Systems.