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

Richard T. Golightly, Pia O. Gabriel, Courtney L. Lockerby, Susan E.W.De La Cruz, John Y. Takekawa, Laird A. Henkel, J. Gregory Massey, Michael H Ziccardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

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 km 2 ) than either the oiled/rehabilitated (32.58 ± 5.48 km 2 ) or rehabilitated only groups (31.06 ± 3.05 km 2 ); 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-50
Number of pages12
JournalWaterbirds
Volume42
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Keywords

  • California
  • Melanitta perspicillata
  • oil exposure
  • radio telemetry
  • San Francisco Bay
  • Surf Scoter
  • wildlife rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology

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    Golightly, R. T., Gabriel, P. O., Lockerby, C. L., Cruz, S. E. W. D. L., Takekawa, J. Y., Henkel, L. A., Massey, J. G., & Ziccardi, M. H. (2019). Post-Release Behavior of Surf Scoters (Melanitta perspicillata) Following an Oil Spill: An Experimental Approach to Evaluating Rehabilitation Success. Waterbirds, 42(1), 39-50. https://doi.org/10.1675/063.042.0105