Written by Bryan Watts
June 5, 2008
Colonial waterbirds are important biological indicators for the health of aquatic ecosystems. During the 2008 nesting season, CCB’s funding partners included the NOAA Coastal Zone Management Program administered by the Virginia Dept. of Environmental Quality and also by the Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and The Nature Conservancy.
CCB biologists lead an effort by air, land, and sea to survey and map waterbird colonies. The 2008 effort is the latest in a long series of benchmark surveys stretching back to the 1970s. The previous effort in 2003 included nearly 80,000 pairs in 446 colonies.The mid-Atlantic region supports populations of 24 colonial waterbird species including herons and egrets, terns and skimmers, gulls, cormorants, and pelicans. CCB biologists have lead systematic surveys to determine the status and distribution of breeding waterbirds within the mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain since the 1970s.
These surveys are the raw material that has been used to determine population trends and develop conservation strategies. Updated information on specific breeding locations is used daily by regulatory agencies charged with providing environmental oversight during the review of permits. CCB will compile the survey results and produce both a summary report and a digital atlas for distribution to regulatory agencies and other organizations within the conservation community.