Movement patterns of California brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis californicus) following oiling and rehabilitation

J. S. Lamb, C. V. Fiorello, Y. G. Satgé, K. Mills, M. Ziccardi, P. G.R. Jodice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Direct mortality of wildlife is generally used to quantify the damage caused by pollution events. However, free-ranging wildlife that survive initial exposure to pollutants may also experience long-term consequences. Individuals that are rehabilitated following oil exposure have a known history of oiling and provide a useful study population for understanding behavior following pollution events. We GPS-tracked 12 rehabilitated brown pelicans and compared their movements to those of eight non-oiled, non-rehabilitated controls over 87–707 (mean = 271) days. Rehabilitated pelicans traveled farther, spent more time in long-distance movements, and occupied more productive waters than controls. These differences were more apparent among females than males. Rehabilitated pelicans also visited breeding colonies and nest sites at lower rates than controls. Our results indicate that, although rehabilitated pelicans undertake long-distance movements, they may display increased dispersion and reduced breeding investment, particularly among females. Such behavioral changes could have long-term effects on populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-31
Number of pages10
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Habitat use
  • Migration
  • Petroleum
  • Refugio oil spill
  • Seabirds
  • Southern California

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution


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