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New models may reduce seabird bycatch
Date:4/4/2011

that the new models "may be especially useful in cases where seabird tracking data do not fully represent the population" or reflect the full extent of its current or potential geographic range.

For instance, the models predicted suitable habitats for Laysan albatrosses along the California Current in the eastern Pacific, despite the fact that none of the birds tracked in the study traveled there, he says. Conservationists who relied on old, static models wouldn't have been forewarned about possible bycatch interactions in that region, even though Laysan albatrosses are known to forage in the current's rich waters.

The models also predicted suitable habitats for black-footed albatrosses from July to October in the Sea of Okhotsk in the northwest Pacific, though no recent tracking data suggests the species' distribution extends that far.

One possible explanation, says co-author Larry B. Crowder of Duke, may be that huge numbers of black-footed albatrosses were hunted and killed for their feathers in that region during the 19th and early 20th centuries, effectively wiping out the modern population, even though archeological evidence suggests the birds were widespread there in pre-modern times.

"Whether the models have correctly identified potential or recent black-footed albatross range is unknown," says Crowder, director of the Center for Marine Conservation and Stephen Toth Professor of Marine Biology at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment. "Nevertheless, it underscores the potential for dynamic models to provide new information on animal distribution."


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Contact: Tim Lucas
tdlucas@duke.edu
919-613-8084
Duke University
Source:Eurekalert

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