Marbled Murrelet as Target Species For Land Management in Coastal British Columbia

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Coastal temperate rain forests are complex ecosystems with high economic value. Conservation management of these forests must be based on clear, defendable strategies with quantifiable goals if they are to withstand economic pressure for exploitation. We introduce the target species strategy as an efficient management tool which allows quantification of conservation goals and continuity in planning time frames. A target species is a species used in defining and monitoring conservation goals. The marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) is an excellent example of a target species. This seabird is highly dependent on coastal old-growth forests as breeding habitat. It is a threatened species in Canada and is considered for legal designation as threatened or endangered in British Columbia. Therefore, it has become a focal species in coastal temperate rain forest conservation. Based on data collected during 4 years of marbled murrelet inventory by the British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks in Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia, we designed a habitat suitability index for the marbled murrelet for efficient habitat evaluation. This index allows a prioritization of habitats based on information from digital Vegetation Resources Inventory maps recently completed in Clayoquot Sound, as well as fine scale habitat prioritization based on vegetation plots. The habitat suitability index was used with a geographic information system (GIS) to rank and map habitats of importance to marbled murrelets in the Clayoquot Sound. The target species strategy, in combination with the presented habitat evaluation tools, bridges the gap between research and conservation management of the marbled murrelet and its habitat.