We measured offshore Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) abundance from April through October between 1989 and 1998, in northern California and southern Oregon and investigated its relationships with marine and terrestrial habitats. We found that higher murrelet abundance offshore was strongly related to the presence of large, clustered and unfragmented old-growth forests on nearby inland areas. Murrelets were most abundant offshore of contiguous old-growth forest adjacent to relatively abundant medium-sized, second-growth coniferous forests. Compared to the forest habitat, marine habitat was relatively unimportant in determining murrelet abundance offshore; high marine primary productivity and nutrients were not associated with high murrelet numbers. Tidal flat shorelines were weakly associated with more murrelets, independent of inland habitat. Our findings suggest management efforts to conserve the Marbled Murrelet should focus on protecting or creating large, contiguous blocks of old-growth habitat, features which currently are rare in the study area.
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