Black Oystercatchers (Haematopus bachmani) have been identified as a species of concern by government agencies and conservation organizations because they have small populations and are sensitive to disturbance caused by shoreline and near-shore human activity. Expanding human recreation in Prince William Sound (PWS) may have potential negative consequences on Black Oystercatcher reproduction and on the population as a whole. Almost 2000 km of shoreline in western PWS was inventoried to assess density, distribution and habitat use of breeding Black Oystercatchers each June and July from 2001 to 2004. These efforts identified 94 territories (density 0.030.38 pairs/km). Black Oystercatcher territories were preferentially located on wave-cut platforms and rocky islets as well as gravel beaches but they avoided salt marsh, tide flats and sheltered rocky shores. Within western PWS 186 shoreline campsites were documented and people preferred to camp on gravel beaches. The association between campsites and territories was evaluated, and although there was a positive correlation at the landscape level, direct overlap only occurred on four sites and territories were separated from campsites, on average, by 1.8 km. Impacts associated with direct overlap (e.g., trampling of nests or direct displacement of pairs) may be rare for this remote area.
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Vol. 32 • No. 3