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27 March 2019 Post-Release Behavior of Surf Scoters (Melanitta perspicillata) Following an Oil Spill: An Experimental Approach to Evaluating Rehabilitation Success
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Abstract

Effectiveness of rehabilitating wildlife following oil spills has been controversial. Impacts include mortality or changes in behavior affecting health or reproduction. Immediately following a bunker fuel oil spill on San Francisco Bay, California, USA, a unique experiment was conducted to examine the movement and foraging behavior of Surf Scoters (Melanitta perspicillata) that had been oiled, captured, cleaned, rehabilitated, and radio-marked. Unoiled Surf Scoters were similarly cleaned, rehabilitated, and radio-marked while other unoiled Surf Scoters were radio-marked as controls. Surf Scoters in the control group had larger home-ranges (46.29 ± 3.23 km2) than either the oiled/rehabilitated (32.58 ± 5.48 km2) or rehabilitated only groups (31.06 ± 3.05 km2); the control group also was more likely to use unsheltered, shallow areas of the bay (66.9 ± 4.3% of locations) than either the oiled/rehabilitated (50.3 ± 5.2%) or rehabilitated only groups (58.2 ± 6.5%). The oiled/rehabilitated group was closer to shore (986 ± 149 m) than rehabilitated (1,894 ± 295 m) or control groups (2,113 ± 227 m). Differences in habitat use, movement patterns, and home range sizes indicated that Surf Scoters held in captivity were more restricted in their movements; therefore, captivity and rehabilitation practices may also influence success of the rehabilitation.

Richard T. Golightly, Pia O. Gabriel, courtney L. lockerby, Susan E. W. de la Cruz, John Y. Takekawa, Laird A. Henkel, J. Gregory Massey, and Michael H. Ziccardi "Post-Release Behavior of Surf Scoters (Melanitta perspicillata) Following an Oil Spill: An Experimental Approach to Evaluating Rehabilitation Success," Waterbirds 42(1), 39-50, (27 March 2019). https://doi.org/10.1675/063.042.0105
Received: 31 July 2018; Accepted: 16 October 2018; Published: 27 March 2019
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