Año Nuevo Island
Seabird Conservation, Habitat Restoration, and Ocean Indicators
Oikonos works with a team of ecologists, habitat restoration experts, artists, designers and land managers to restore degraded habitat for nesting seabirds on Año Nuevo Island, California. In addition, in 2017 Oikonos is leading the 25th consecutive year of seabird ecology studies at Año Nuevo State Park (initiated by the Park and Point Blue Conservation Science in 1993).
Highlights from 2016:
- 318 Rhinoceros Auklets bred on the island, with 294 in the habitat restoration area – setting a new record high.
- Clay modules provided nesting habitat for 50 breeders from 3 different burrowing species
- Habitat restoration efforts continued to reduce erosion while increasing native plant cover. Only 4% of the burrows experienced erosion this year, compared to 40-60% before restoration.
- Rhinoceros Auklets preyed mainly on Northern Anchovy in 2016.
Protection: To protect the seabird nesting area from destructive trampling by California sea lions, we designed an innovative Habitat Ridge.
Nest Modules: To provide low-maintenance nesting sites for burrowing seabirds that are safe from erosion and trampling, we designed and produced 90 clay nest modules. Since 2010, clay modules have been used by hundreds of pairs Rhinoceros Auklet, Cassin’s Auklet, and Pigeon Guillemots to raise their young. More info.
Restoration: To stabilize the burrowing habitat for Rhinoceros and Cassin’s Auklets and improve nesting success, we installed over 15,000 native coastal grasses and shrubs. Since then, increased native plant cover (12-79% cover in restoration plots) has resulted in a reduction in burrow collapse from erosion (4% damaged in 2016, compared to an average of 25% annually before restoration).
Seabird Population and Reproduction Studies: We annually document the breeding population size and reproductive success of 8 breeding seabird species. The Rhinoceros Auklet population increased by 26% and the Cassin’s Auklet population tripled in the 5 years since habitat restoration.
Indicators of Ocean Conditions: Seabird diet studies are widely used to assess and predict ocean health. We annually collect diet samples from three breeding seabird species: Rhinoceros Auklets (1993-2015), and Brandt’s and Pelagic Cormorants (2000-2015).
Publications & Papers
Temporal and Sex-Specific Variability in Rhinoceros Auklet Diet in the Central California Current System
Carle R., Beck J., Calleri D., and Hester M. 2015. Journal of Marine Systems 146:99-108.
Selected Reports – Long-term Study Results:
Beck, J. Carle, R., Calleri, D., Hester, M. 2015. Unpublished report to CA Dept. of Parks and Recreation, Año Nuevo Island. Oikonos – Ecosystem Knowledge.
Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 2013
San Francisco Chronicle, 17 July, 2009.
Contact Project Leaders
Partners & Supporters
Thank you to the over 160 volunteers who have given their expertise and muscles to these efforts. Thank you to the individual donors for caring about the seabirds of Año Nuevo.
Direct funding provided by USCG National Pollution Fund Center, managed by the Luckenbach and Command Oil Spill Trustee Councils; Creative Work Fund, a program of the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and The James Irvine Foundation; Patagonia Santa Cruz; Peninsula Open Space Trust; Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation; Michael Lee Environmental Foundation; Bently Foundation; USGS – Western Ecological Research Center; Coastal Conservancy.