A review of the world's active seabird restoration projects


  • Associate Editor: Joseph Ganey.


Within the past several decades, seabird populations have been actively restored in locales where they were reduced or extirpated. Chick translocation, acoustic vocalization playbacks, and decoys are now used widely to lure breeding seabirds to restoration sites. In this first worldwide review of seabird restoration projects we evaluate the factors affecting project success or failure and recommend future directions for management. We identified 128 active restoration projects that were implemented to protect 47 seabird species in 100 locales spanning 14 countries since active restoration methods were pioneered in 1973. Active seabird restoration can achieve conservation goals for threatened and endangered species, and for species affected by anthropogenic impacts (e.g., oil spills, invasive species, fisheries). It also can be used to relocate populations from undesired breeding locales to more favorable locations, and to establish multiple breeding locations to reduce risks posed by catastrophic events. Active restoration can help to restore ecological processes, as large seabird colonies function to cycle marine nutrients to terrestrial ecosystems and create habitats for commensal species. Active restoration is especially appropriate where the original causes of decline are no longer working to suppress colony establishment and growth. Successful restoration efforts require careful planning and long-term commitments. We introduce the different forms of active seabird restoration techniques, review their utility for different seabird species, and use case studies to suggest how to optimize this technique to restore seabird species globally. Wildlife managers can use this review to guide their seabird restoration projects in the planning, implementation, and monitoring stages; tailor their restoration to seabird-specific life histories; and identify areas for further research to improve restoration utility in the future. © 2011 The Wildlife Society.