UBC Undergraduate Research

Birds, barks, and boats in Burrard Inlet : A spatial analysis of winter marine bird communities and recreational disturbances along the Kitsilano shoreline Gauk, Jamie; Kwan, Braela; Li, Ada; Yeung, Nicole


British Columbia’s Burrard Inlet is recognized internationally as an Important Bird Area (IBA) (IBA Canada, 2017). IBAs are crucial for preserving biodiversity because they include globally important bird populations, and they are internationally accepted as effective conservation tools. The Burrard Inlet was established as an IBA due to the potential threats that residential urbanization, commercial and industrial development, as well as recreational activities pose to the integrity of marine bird communities (IBA Canada, 2017). The Kitsilano shoreline, a component of Burrard Inlet, attracts both people and birds alike. With beaches such as Spanish Banks Beach Park, Jericho Beach Park, and Kitsilano Beach Park, the Kitsilano shoreline is a popular destination for beach use among locals and visitors. Additionally, the region is a critical habitat for numerous species of marine birds, many of which are species of interest (IBA Canada, 2017). Burrard Inlet currently supports 1.5% of the global population of Barrow’s Goldeneye, though it has historically supported 4% of the estimated global population (IBA Canada, 2017). Additionally, Burrard Inlet supports over 7,000 Surf Scoters, 100 Great Blue Herons, and 100 to 500 Western Grebes (IBA Canada, 2017). The City of Vancouver is striving to be the greenest city in the world by 2020. The preservation of the city’s bird biodiversity will be instrumental in achieving this, as it will contribute to meeting Goal 6: Access to Nature (Greenest City: 2020 Action Plan, 2012). To accomplish this, efforts to mitigate the impacts of urbanization on native bird species are critical. Increasing human activity pose threats to bird communities along our coasts and beaches, since recreational activities can disrupt the foraging, courting, and resting behaviours of birds. Therefore, it should be of utmost priority to adopt strategies that encourage beach users to engage in recreational activity in a manner that minimizes the disturbance impacts to marine birds (Vancouver Bird Strategy, 2015). The primary goal of this project is to assess the status of marine bird communities along the Kitsilano shoreline. We completed a series of spatial analyses based on field data collection from November 2017 to February 2018. Additionally, we addressed the observed trends between bird distributions and anthropogenic activities using a combination of quantitative analysis and anecdotal observations. The research questions driving this project: 1) What marine bird species are present along the Kitsilano shoreline between November and February? 2) What are the abundances and spatial distributions of the observed marine bird communities? 3) What human recreational activities are present along the shoreline and is there a trend between human disturbances and marine bird distributions?

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