Document Type

Honors Thesis


Marine Science


Brian J. Olsen

Committee Members

Kristina Cammen, Elliot M. Johnston, Melissa Ladenheim, Bik Wheeler

Graduation Year

May 2022

Publication Date

Spring 5-2022


The nearshore ecosystem in Maine (USA) supports several bird species that rely on intertidal and subtidal zones, including high densities of migratory shorebirds and wintering waterfowl. Additionally, Acadia National Park (ANP) includes some of the country’s highest densities of both Purple Sandpipers (Calidris maritima) and Harlequin Ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus). Here I investigated whether conservation actions taken to preserve these two species of high conservation concern might also benefit the larger taxonomic groups to which they belong, a concept known as “umbrella species conservation”. To answer this question, bird abundance surveys were conducted within ANP during 2021, and detection and occupancy were compared among the focal groups. This project also served as a pilot test of a long-term monitoring protocol for nearshore bird species in ANP. After controlling for detection, the presence of Purple Sandpipers and Harlequin Ducks did not significantly alter the estimated occupancy of waterfowl or shorebirds at a given site, indicating that these species are not good umbrella species for the two larger bird groups. The small sample size of our umbrella species and the near ubiquity of waterfowl made it statistically difficult for the occupancy of waterfowl to covary with umbrella species detection. Further, Purple Sandpipers were present at shorebird sites with the highest occupancy probabilities, but Harlequin Ducks were not. Including more survey locations occupied by Purple Sandpipers and Harlequin Ducks would be necessary to see if this pattern is generalizable within ANP. Additionally, further research is needed to determine whether any umbrella species conservation approach would be more appropriate for the near-coastal avian assemblage in Acadia.