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Science Pub Corvallis

Monday, March 12, 2018 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Marbled Murrelet: Uncovering the hidden world of a secretive seabird

Speaker: Jim Rivers, College of Forestry, Oregon State University.


Birds are plucked silently off the water as they doze in the middle of the night. A plane searches over hundreds of square miles to listen for a faint tracking signal. An unmanned drone combs the forest with an infrared heat-seeking camera to search for life high in the canopy of an old growth forest. With activities like these, uncovering the ecology of the marbled murrelet sounds more like an action movie than a research project. However that is exactly what it takes for Jim Rivers, a professor of animal ecology at Oregon State University, and his colleagues to study this elusive seabird.

Backed by strong support from both the timber industry and conservation groups, Rivers and his team are tackling some of the most important questions about nesting and space use for one of Oregon’s most secretive and difficult-to-study birds. Unlike their close relatives, which include puffins and murres, the marbled murrelet is a bird of two worlds. It gets its food from the ocean but raises its young up to 50 miles inland in mature forests. Disturbance in either environment has the potential to impact the murrelet population, which is currently listed as a threatened species.

Beginning in the spring and summer of 2017, the Oregon Marbled Murrelet Project began capturing murrelets on the open ocean and attaching radio tags to track the movements of individual birds throughout their breeding season. The project is designed to span multiple years and should provide much needed data to inform science-based forest management in future years.

Rivers heads a large research team at Oregon State University, investigating how marbled murrelets and other animals that require forests are impacted by natural and human-caused disturbances. Additional information about the Oregon Marbled Murrelet Project and other research by the Rivers lab can be found online at www.oregonmurrelet.org.


For more info visit Science Pub Night.

Science Pub is sponsored by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the Downtown Corvallis Association and Terra magazine at Oregon State University.


PLEASE NOTE: We will be moving towards an RSVP system for Science Pubs starting in April, more info coming.

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