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Deposition and persistence of beachcast seabird carcasses
Van Pelt, T.I.; Piatt, J.F. (1995). Deposition and persistence of beachcast seabird carcasses. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 30(12): 794-802
In: Marine Pollution Bulletin. Macmillan: London. ISSN 0025-326X, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Van Pelt, T.I.
  • Piatt, J.F.

    Following a massive wreck of guillemots (Uria aalge) in late winter and spring of 1993, we monitored the deposition and subsequent disappearance of 398 beachcast guillemot carcasses on two beaches in Resurrection Bay, Alaska, during a 100 day period. Deposition of carcasses declined logarithmically with time after the original event. Since fresh carcasses were more likely to be removed between counts than older carcasses, persistence rates increased logarithmically over time. Scavenging appeared to be the primary cause of carcass removal, followed by burial in beach debris and sand. Along-shore transport was negligible. We present an equation which estimates the number of carcasses deposited at time zero from beach surveys conducted some time later, using non-linear persistence rates that are a function of time. We use deposition rates to model the accumulation of beached carcasses, accounting for further deposition subsequent to the original event. Finally, we present a general method for extrapolating from a single count the number of carcasses cumulatively deposited on surveyed beaches, and discuss how our results can be used to assess the magnitude of mass seabird mortality events from beach surveys.

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