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IBA News: Pacific Flyway Marine IBAs


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From the Birding Community E-bulletin, January 2014:
 
In an effort to raise awareness about the conservation of seabirds, National Audubon, the coordinator of the Important Bird Areas (IBA) program in the U.S., has released a new interactive map that allows users to explore some of the most important places for seabirds along the Pacific Coast.
 
The map extends from the icy Beaufort Sea along Alaska's north coast south to the tropical seas of Mexico's Baja Peninsula. This initial mapping is important since threats to seabirds include ocean pollution, human overfishing of critical food fish, and human-caused disturbance to breeding, feeding, and resting sites.
 
The interactive map specifically identifies 216 new and potential marine IBAs.
 
Easy to use and full of photos and facts about seabirds, the map allows users to browse the newest marine IBAs to learn more about where seabirds nest and feed. For those who seek a more in-depth view, or who want information about certain species or places, the map has deeper layers with species profiles for the key bird species, the habitat descriptions, as well as detail about the specific conservation issues being faced.
 
Many questions faced the researchers who put this project together. . For example, how do you draw a boundary on the ocean? Since seabirds nest in dense colonies on cliffs and rocky islands, how far away from those sites should be considered important to the birds? What about places in the ocean with no landmarks but are good feeding areas for birds?
 
Using data from the US Geological Survey's North Pacific Pelagic Seabird Database and the US Fish & Wildlife Service's North Pacific Seabird Colony Database, plus a strong dose of ingenuity, researchers have started to address those questions and have made a map that is another step toward approaching seabirds within an IBA context.
 
See here for the interactive map:
http://gis.audubon.org/pacificflyway_ibas/
 
For additional information about IBA programs worldwide, including those across the U.S., check the National Audubon Society's Important Bird Area program web site at:
www.audubon.org/bird/iba/

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