Much of the protected habitat available to the threatened Marbled Murrelet Brachyramphus marmoratus and other old-growth associated species in the Pacific Northwest is in narrow strips along the coast (e.g., parks and scenic fringes). Using data over two years from three watersheds on southwest Vancouver Island, we show that such shoreline strip forests represent suboptimal habitat for murrelets. Murrelet detections, including circling and subcanopy behaviors, were significantly lower at 30 coastal stations (20–250 m from the shoreline edge) than at 30 interior stations (1.5–21.0 km inland). Densities of predators were significantly higher at the coastal stations. The coastal trees were of similar mean height and diameter, but they had lower structural diversity and provided fewer and less suitable (thinner epiphyte cover on large boughs) nesting platforms than trees in the interior. When possible, reserves for Marbled Murrelets should be placed in interior and not shoreline forests.
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