Energetics and vulnerability to human impacts of molting Surf and White-winged Scoters in the Puget Sound-Georgia Basin

Project Number: 120
Year Funded: 2009
Lead Institution(s): Simon Fraser University
Project Lead: Eric Anderson
Collaborator(s): Dan Esler (SFU) Joseph Evenson (WDFW)
Location: Salish Sea
Focal Species: Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata), White-winged Scoter (Melanitta delgandi)
Project Description: Scoters aggregate during wing molt to a greater extent than at most other times of year, increasing the risk to scoter populations of localized human disturbances. Recent observations indicate that many thousands of scoters molt in the Puget Sound-Georgia Basin (PSGB) of Washington and British Columbia (BC). Many heavily-used molting sites in the PSGB are subject to diverse and extensive human impacts, particularly when compared to molting sites further north. Padilla Bay, a major molting site in Washington, is bordered by two major oil refineries, is subject to extensive diking and dredging that alter food availability, and is open to hunting in mid-October when breeding females may not have completed molt. In BC, many thousands of Surf and White-winged Scoters molt in the Fraser River Delta. Rapid urbanization in the lower reaches of the Fraser River has likely increased contamination in the Fraser River Delta (Hall and Schreier 1996), although related effects on molting scoters and foods on which they may depend are unknown. To clarify the value of coastal molting habitats, we are evaluating the nutritional condition of scoters during molt and thus their vulnerability to human impacts using data available through concurrent studies and comparisons with captive sea ducks. These results are a substantial response to the SDJV priority to identify and inventory important sea duck coastal habitats.
Project Reports: https://seaduckjv.org/pdf/studies/pr120.pdf
Energetics and vulnerability to human impacts of molting Surf and White-winged Scoters in the Puget Sound-Georgia Basin