MEPS 492:273-283 (2013)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10492

Spatially explicit model of wintering common loons: conservation implications

Kristopher J. Winiarski1,2,*, David L. Miller1, Peter W. C. Paton1, Scott R. McWilliams1

Department of Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island, 1 Greenhouse Road, Kingston, Rhode Island 02881, USA
2Present address: Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts, 160 Holdsworth Way, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003, USA

ABSTRACT: Common loons Gavia immer are a conservation concern in New England due to a variety of anthropogenic factors, yet little is known about biotic and abiotic environmental factors determining their wintering distribution and abundance in nearshore and offshore waters. The primary objective of this study was to develop a spatially explicit abundance model of wintering common loons in the maritime waters of southern New England (USA) that could inform decisions about offshore development. Aerial line-transect surveys were conducted throughout a 3800 km2 study area off the coast of Rhode Island during the winters of 2010–2011 and 2011–2012. A density surface model (DSM) approach was used to account for imperfect detection and incorporate spatially explicit environmental covariates. Common loon densities were greatest in waters <35 m deep, with high chl a surface concentrations (>2 mg m-3). The DSM predicted 5047 (95% CI = 3993-6379) common loons in the study area during winter, which suggests this region provides key habitat for this species in eastern North America. This study highlights important areas for common loons in the region, suggests key biotic (primary productivity as measured by long-term chl a surface concentrations) and abiotic covariates (water depth) driving the spatial distribution and abundance of common loons in southern New England, and identifies sites that should be considered for protection from offshore development, including offshore wind facilities.


KEY WORDS: Aerial line-transect survey · Chlorophyll a · Density surface model · Distance sampling · Gavia immer · Spatially explicit abundance models


Full text in pdf format 
Supplementary material 
Cite this article as: Winiarski KJ, Miller DL, Paton PWC, McWilliams SR (2013) Spatially explicit model of wintering common loons: conservation implications. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 492:273-283. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10492

Export citation
Mail this link - Contents Mailing Lists - RSS
- -