Herz International Seabird Fellowship

2014 Herz Fellows
Silvestre Montesinos, Facundo Franken, and Alejandra Fabila - 2014 Herz Fellowship Recipients.

The Seabird Restoration Program (SRP) of the National Audubon Society is an internationally recognized program that restores seabirds to historic nesting islands through the use of innovative techniques based on seabird behavior and ecology. For 40 years, the program has restored populations of rare and endangered seabirds to islands in the Gulf of Maine using techniques such as models, mirrors, sound recordings, translocation of young seabirds and habitat management. These techniques have great potential to help rare species, as nearly all seabirds share biological traits such as colonial nesting habits, tendencies to return to hatching places and attraction to others of their species by sight and sound. Techniques developed at Audubon's Maine Coast Seabird Sanctuaries have helped rare seabirds in the Galapagos Islands, Hawaiian Islands, Japan, New Zealand, California and Washington where seabirds were decimated due to human actions.

Need

Many of earth's 346 seabird species could benefit from SRP techniques since the ranges and populations of most species are greatly decreased compared to historic periods, especially in areas where human activities have reduced habitat, introduced predators and polluted coastal waters. Birdlife International presently lists 28% of all seabirds as globally threatened. Some seabird groups such as the petrels and shearwaters are especially threatened with nearly half of all species on the globally threatened list. The need for proactive conservation strategies is urgent, as some species nest at just one location where disease and predators could easily eliminate entire species. Many of these species could benefit from techniques piloted and proven in the Gulf of Maine , but there is presently no systematic strategy for disseminating information to other biologists and wildlife managers beyond publications and presentations at scientific meetings.

Most of the rare seabirds of the world live in tropical climates where the resource agencies of third world countries have very limited funding for managing seabirds and are unlikely to send their biologists outside of the country for training programs that could offer models and techniques for helping rare birds.

Fellowship

The Josephine D. Herz Seabird Fellowship Fund will provide travel and living expenses for resource managers to attend Audubon's Seabird Management Internship at the Society's Maine Coastal Island Sanctuaries during the period of late May to mid-August.

Training program

SRP's training program is a 10-week field practicum for college students and professionals interested in learning applied seabird management techniques. The program builds on knowledge from several theoretical disciplines, principally evolutionary biology, taxonomy, genetics, oceanography, marine biology and marine ornithology. The program combines theory with practical experience from applied disciplines such as wildlife management and aviculture to develop proactive techniques for managing rare and endangered seabirds.

Recipients of the Josephine D. Herz Fellowship will begin their internship at Audubon's Hog Island Environmental Education Center (Bremen, Maine USA ) in late May where they will take part in an intensive two-day orientation program with approximately twenty summer interns actively managing seabird nesting islands throughout the Gulf of Maine. Instructors for the training program include biologists from Audubon's SRP and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as faculty from cooperating universities including the University of Maine and University of New Brunswick. The training program focuses on the following topics:

  • State of the world's seabirds: an overview of conservation issues on terrestrial and marine habitats

  • Ecology of the Gulf of Maine, including geologic, oceanographic, biotic and human impacts affecting seabirds
  • Identification and nesting ecology of Gulf of Maine seabirds
  • Foraging ecology of Gulf of Maine seabirds
  • Evaluating species for restoration and selection of appropriate management techniques
  • The role of predation, disease and food as limiting factors
  • Rationale and techniques for managing island predators
  • Techniques for conducting tern feeding studies, census methods and measures of productivity
  • Field techniques: fire arm safety training; outboard boat operation and safety; first aid and use of radios and solar technology at remote sites

After orientation training, the fellowship recipient will begin the field practicum part of the program. This will take place on Audubon's system of managed seabird nesting islands. There are seven field stations located on islands along the Maine coast. Some islands such as Eastern Egg Rock have been managed for over 30 years, while the most recent project on Outer Green Island was started in 2002. The islands range in size from 2 ha Jenny Island to 50 ha Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge. The islands are largely treeless and remote, some located as much as 30 km offshore. See the map of research islands for detailed descriptions of the research stations, field projects conducted at each island and lists of species nesting on the islands.

The Herz Fellows will join an island team comprised of 2-4 other interns where they will receive supervision and additional training from a resident Island Supervisor as well as on-site training and supervision from SRP's Director, Dr. Stephen W. Kress. Recipients will visit 4-5 islands over the course of the summer and participate in various restoration programs - some just starting and others that are 30-year success stories. Where interest exists, fellows may also participate in the educational programs of the SRP with Education Coordinator Peter Salmansohn, and Susan Schubel, Outreach Educator.

Eligibility

Applicants should hold the position of biologist or similar on the staff of a conservation agency, academic or research institution or non-governmental organization concerned with seabird conservation. Applicants with a specific conservation project concerning a rare or endangered seabird are especially encouraged to apply. Applicants should complete the Application, and submit it along with a current resume and three letters of reference.

Deadline: Yearly applications must be submitted by March 15th.

Assistance for initiatiating international conservation projects. 

SRP will assist Herz Fellows establish new seabird conservation programs within the Fellow's home country. By demonstrating international interest in the conservation of seabirds in third world countries, Audubon can help the Herz Fellows build support for developing and implementing conservation programs.

 Participating SRP staff

Dr. Steve Kress
Steve Kress

STEPHEN KRESS
 is Vice-President for Bird Conservation for the National Audubon Society and Manager of the Society's Maine Coast Seabird Sanctuaries. As Director of Audubon's Seabird Restoration Program, he develops techniques for managing colonial nesting seabirds. In this capacity, he has re-established mixed seabird colonies along the Maine coast for Atlantic Puffins, Arctic, Common, and Roseate Terns, and Leach's Storm-Petrel. In the Pacific, he has studied the role of vocalizations for attracting endangered Dark-rumped Petrels to artificial burrows in the Galapagos Islands and Short-tailed Albatross to decoys on Midway Island. He is also an advisor for restoration plans for Common Murres in Central California, Caspian Terns in the Columbia River, and Northern Gannets on the North Shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

He received his Ph.D. from Cornell University and is currently a Research Fellow at Cornell, where he teaches a popular course called Spring Field Ornithology. He is Ornithology Program Director for the Audubon Camp in Maine, and an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Wildlife Ecology at the University of Maine, Orono. Among his many books on birding and backyard wildlife management, he is author of The Audubon Society Bird GardenThe Audubon Society Birder's Handbook, Project Puffin, and the Birdlife Golden Guide, as well as many scientific papers on seabird biology and conservation.

Pete Salmansohn
Pete Salmansohn

PETER SALMANSOHN 
is the Education Coordinator for National Audubon Society's Seabird Restoration Program. He has worked as an environmental educator on the Maine coast for the past twenty years. In 1998 he was selected as Environmental Educator of the Year by the Maine Environmental Education Association and received the 2002 Visionary Award from the Gulf of Maine Council. He is a co-author with Stephen Kress of several award-winning children's books including Project Puffin: How We Brought Puffins Back to Egg Rock, and Giving Back to the Earth: An activity guide for Project Puffin and Seabird Studies; and Saving Birds. Pete is a certified teacher and has a master's degree in Teaching from the Environmental Studies Department of Antioch New England Graduate School. He also holds a Master's Degree in Social Ecology from Goddard College in Vermont. His writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Downeast, Wildlife Conservation, and a number of other publications. Since 1997, he has managed SRP's School Outreach Program and Boat Tour Program to Audubon Seabird Sanctuaries in Maine.

Paula Shannon
Paula Shannon

PAULA SHANNON 
is the Seabird Sanctuary Manager for the National Audubon Society's Seabird Restoration Program (SRP). She began working for SRP in 2002, as Island Supervisor on Matinicus Rock, Maine's most diverse seabird colony. She continued in this role for five years until 2006, participating in various projects involving alcids, terns, gulls, storm-petrels, and shearwaters. In 2011 she returned to SRP, supervising the research and management of all seven of SRP's field stations. She has also studied seabirds in Alaska and Hawaii, leading fieldwork on seabirds for the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska's Pribilof and Semidi Islands from 2008-2010, and serving as a biologist in the French Frigate Shoals in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. Paula also worked for the Bureau of Land Management in Oregon, with much of her work focused on Marbled Murrelets. In addition to her work with seabirds, Paula has worked on numerous avian research and conservation projects across the United States, including work with raptors, songbirds, and shorebirds. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Biology from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, which is where she first developed a love and appreciation for the Maine coast.

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