Little is known about seabird distributions at night. Densities of Marbled Murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus, hereafter “murrelets”) and potential prey were determined along fixed-width transects in spring and summer of 2007 and 2008, and compared during night and day in two regions of Port Snettisham, near Juneau, Southeast Alaska. Murrelets moved from a shallower, more sheltered inner region, used during the day for foraging and staging for inland flights (2007 night densities = 15 ± 13 murrelets·km-2; 2007 day densities = 172 ± 67 murrelets·km-2), to a deeper, more exposed outer region, further from shore, during dark hours (2007 night densities = 113 ± 61 murrelets·km-2; 2007 day densities = 41 ± 23 murrelets·km-2). Prey school density and relative prey density were significantly higher at night in the inner region compared with the outer region (2.2 times higher prey school density and 3.8 times higher relative prey density), suggesting that murrelets were not redistributing themselves to forage on fish prey. A more likely explanation for why murrelets move from day use areas to night use areas is to avoid predators such as Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), Great Horned Owls (Bubo virginianus) and various mammals.
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Vol. 33 • No. 4