UBC Undergraduate Research

Winter marine birds in False Creek : a spatial analysis of bird distributions and anthropogenic disturbances Bandara, Sandamini; Barrette, Nicole; Carss, Jordyn; Fendick, Grace


The City of Vancouver has the ambition to be one of the greenest cities in the world (City of Vancouver, 2012). Through bylaws and policy changes, they have committed to reduce their ecological footprint, enhance urban sustainability and meet objectives like protecting natural spaces from development and restoring natural habitat. In order to achieve their goals, the City needs to make sustainable development decisions, informed by research about surrounding ecosystems and the species that live there. False Creek, a saltwater inlet on the south end of downtown, is of particular interest for both its urban and natural roles within the city landscape. Proposed development plans for the northeast corner of False Creek created interest for the City to collect more information about the status of the ecosystem. To learn more about the health of the False Creek ecosystem, marine birds were chosen as an indicator because they are highly integrated in both the aquatic and terrestrial features of the landscape, are sensitive to climate change, and are easily identifiable. Because Vancouver is a stopover on a major north-south bird migration route and contains regions that have been identified as Important Bird Areas (IBAs) according to internationally recognized standards, the city’s role in providing habitat to both migratory and resident species is globally significant. False Creek is one such area within an IBA, but no detailed studies about which marine birds use the area and how human activities disturb different species has been attempted to date. This project was established to help fill information gaps by conducting a baseline survey of the marine birds present in False Creek during the winter months. The research questions driving our study were: 1) Which marine bird species are present in False Creek between November and February? 2) What are the distributions of the observed species and how many are observed in the field? 3) What are human activities that disturb marine birds in False Creek?

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