Pelecanus occidentalis - Linnaeus, 1766
Brown Pelican
Other Common Names: Pelicano-Pardo
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Pelecanus occidentalis Linnaeus, 1766 (TSN 174685)
French Common Names: Pélican brun
Spanish Common Names: Pelícano Pardo
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.817986
Element Code: ABNFC01020
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Other Birds
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Pelecaniformes Pelecanidae Pelecanus
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: The American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). Banks, R.C., R.T. Chesser, C. Cicero, J.L. Dunn, A.W. Kratter, I.J. Lovette, P.C. Rasmussen, J.V. Remsen, Jr., J.D. Rising, D.F. Stotz, and K. Winker. 2008. Forty-ninth supplement to the American Ornithologists' Union Check-list of North American Birds. The Auk 125(3):758-768.
Concept Reference Code: A08AOU01EHUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Pelecanus occidentalis
Taxonomic Comments: Formerly included P. thagus Molina, 1782 [Peruvian Pelican], now considered distinct (e.g. Sibley and Monroe 1990, Ridgely and Greenfield 2001) on the basis of much larger size, differences in color of plumage and soft parts (Wetmore 1945), and absence of interbreeding (Banks et al., 2008).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 09Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 20Nov1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: Large range, extending from North America to South America; most U.S. populations have been stable or increasing in recent years; population status in much of Central and South America is not well known, but the species may be moderately to highly threatened throughout much of the range, mainly as a result of environmental pollution and disturbance by humans; subject to unexplained population fluctuations even where doing well overall.
Nation: United States
National Status: N4B,N4N (05Jan1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: NNRM (08Jan2018)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S3), Arizona (S1N), California (SNR), Delaware (S1N), Florida (S3), Georgia (S2), Illinois (SNA), Louisiana (S3), Maryland (S1B), Mississippi (S1N), Nevada (S1N), New Jersey (S4N), North Carolina (S3B,S4N), Oregon (S2N), South Carolina (S1S2), Texas (S3B), Virginia (S2B,S3N), Washington (S3N)
Canada British Columbia (SNRM)

Other Statuses

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R8 - California-Nevada
IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Breeding range extends along the Pacific coast from southern California to South America and along Atlantic, Gulf, and Caribbean coasts from Maryland south to Florida and westward to southern Texas, plus the Bahamas, West Indies, Yucatan Peninsula, and off Venezuela and the Caribbean coast of Colombia. During the nonbreeding season, brown pelicans range in Pacific coastal waters north to southern British Columbia (after breeding, before winter); in western North America, the species winters mainly from California south; in the southeastern U.S., the primary winter range includes Florida and the Gulf Coast.

Subspecies CAROLINENSIS: breeds locally in Maryland and Virginia and south to Florida (primary nesting range), also locally in Louisiana (where reintroduced) and in central coastal Texas; breeds locally also off northeastern Yucatan and Belize, and ranges southward through coastal Honduras and Costa Rica to Panama, where local breeding occurs off the Pacific coast; vagrants wander north to New England and occur casually inland to the Great Lakes and Great Plains states (Johnsgard 1993). Breeds also in the Bahamas (Sprunt 1984) (extirpated, according to Johnsgard 1993). Ranges throughout breeding range and along eastern shores of Mexico south along Central America to the Caribbean coasts of Colombia and Venezuela, and through the Greater and Lesser Antilles to Trinidad; and on the Pacific coast of Central America (AOU 1957).

Subspecies CALIFORNICUS: breeds along Pacific coast in southern California (Anacapa Island), and in Mexico on islands off Baja California and on islands in the Gulf of California (south to Isabella and the Tres Marias Islands); possibly locally along the coast of Sonora and Sinaloa; vagrants have occurred north to British Columbia and Idaho (Johnsgard 1993).

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Many occurrences are distributed throughout the coastal range in North, Central, and South America.

Population Size: 100,000 - 1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Breeding population estimates (pairs): Virginia (50-100 in 1990; Byrd and Johnston 1991), North Carolina (2800), South Carolina (9800), Texas (500 in 1989), Florida (9950 in 1995), Louisiana (1098 in 1990); see Spendelow and Patton (1988) and Clapp and Buckley (1984). Florida's 1995 nesting population was assumed to represent a total population of between 27,100 and 43,800 individuals. Breeding populations in Panama and Mexico are believed to be very large (i.e., 50,000+ birds and 40,000 pairs, respectively) (Crivelli and Anderson 1984), though subject to considerable fluctuation. Subspecies CALIFORNICUS: total population was about 48,500 pairs in the late 1980s; 3000 pairs in southern California, 33,000 pairs in Gulf of California, 7500 pairs on islands off mainland Mexico, and 5000 pairs in southwestern Baja California. Southern California Bight population was about 4200 pairs in 1989 (California Department of Fish and Game 1990). Populations elsewhere are poorly known.

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: This species was nearly extirpated from North America between the late 1950s and early 1970s when pesticides entering the marine food web caused major population declines. The pesticide endrin killed pelicans directly, whereas DDT reduced reproductive success by causing pelicans to lay thin-shelled eggs that broke during incubation.

Populations are extremely vulnerable to chemical/pesticide pollution, which can result in eggshell thinning (reproductive failure) (Anderson and Hickey 1970, Blus et al. 1974), and presumably lethal poisoning. Populations (especially in California, Texas, and Louisiana) were decimated in the U.S. by pesticides (DDT and related compounds) in the 1950s and 60s. In the U.S. Caribbean, 7% of the pelican population in 1982 died as a result of fish die-offs in connection to chemical runoffs (e.g., organophosphates). Other threats include disturbance of nesting birds by humans (reduces reproductive success), declining fish (food) populations, increased turbidity (e.g., from dredging, resulting in reduced visibility of prey); oil and other chemical spills, entanglement in fishing gear, shooting, extreme weather conditions (freezing of soft parts, destruction of nest sites by hurricanes, storms), disease, and parasitism.

Human disturbance (e.g., recreational boating, poaching) not only disrupts reproductive success (Anderson and Keith 1980; Schreiber 1979), but may affect distribution patterns and age structure of pelicans using roosting sites during the nonbreeding season (Jaques and Anderson 1987). Habitat degradation affects both roosting and nesting patterns. On the Gulf Coast, nesting efforts have failed because nesting sites are susceptible to flooding as a result of continued site erosion (McNease et al. 1992).

Subspecies CALIFORNICUS: Declined greatly due to effects of pesticide contamination in the 1950s and 1960s. In Southern California threatened by pollution (primarily pesticides in food fishes, also oil), human disturbance of breeding colonies, loss or serious decline of food fishes due to human over-fishing (e.g., of anchovies); loss of post-breeding roost sites, fishing gear entanglement, and bacterial infection resulting from overcrowding at fish disposal areas in harbors (California Department of Fish and Game 1990). Human disturbance has decreased nesting success on Islas los Coronados, Mexico (Anderson 1988) and virtually extirpated the breeding colony (California Department of Fish and Game 1990). Southern populations in Mexico have faced problems associated with human disturbance and overexploitation of prey (e.g., sardines), yet they remain stable (D. W. Anderson, pers. comm.).

U.S. Caribbean: contaminant levels and availability of nesting habitat are not limiting or affecting the population at present. See Williams et al. (1992) for an account of die-offs that have been observed in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands; apparent causes include pesticides, botulism, and unknown factors. In the tropics and subtropics, coastal development and incidental take (e.g., artisanal fishing) is a problem and represents a major threat to the continued availability of mangrove habitat. Close to 91% of all roosting and nesting habitat utilized in the U.S. Caribbean are fringe and overwash mangroves. Fringe mangroves are particularly important to the feeding ecology of pelicans because they provide nutrient inputs and cover for the associated marine community, including food fishes. Both mangrove types are very sensitive to human-created stress such as deforestation, filling and extractions in the salt flats, sedimentation, and oil spills (Cintron and Schaeffer-Novelli 1983). Siltation caused by erosion could be adversely impacting coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove forests (Cintron and Schaeffer-Novelli 1983, Velazco et al. 1985).

Short-term Trend: Decline of <30% to increase of 25%
Short-term Trend Comments: Within the U.S., the eastern population (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina) appears to be stable and even increasing. Recent increase in North Carolina is attributed to expansion of South Carolina population, aided by creation of dredge spoil islands that provide additional nesting habitat. Gulf Coast populations are increasing steadily, but those in the U.S. Caribbean have declined over the last 10 years (J. Collazo, pers. obs.). Contaminant levels for both populations, however, are below the threshold found to induce reproductive failure [e.g., 4-5 parts per million (ppm) for DDE]. Colonies on the San Lorenzo Islands in the Gulf of California contained about 32,000 birds in 1970 but had decreased to approximately 8,200 in 1977. However, southern populations of subspecies CALIFORNICUS, occurring in Mexico, evidently are stable (D. W. Anderson, pers. comm.). U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (1990) categorized the status of CALIFORNICUS as "stable." Data are needed on Central and South American populations where organochlorine pesticide use is still allowed. Aside from large, reproductively viable populations in Panama and Mexico, population status in Central and South America is poorly known (Crivelli and Anderson 1984, Risebrough and Schreiber 1972, Halewyn and Norton 1984, Guzman and Schreiber 1987).

Long-term Trend:  
Long-term Trend Comments: See Guravich and Brown (1983) for an account of the decline and recovery.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Need numerical status and distribution information in most of its range except for the U.S. and certain parts of Mexico and the Caribbean. Continue monitoring populations where now monitored.

Protection Needs: Stop forever all forms of pollution and degradation of the marine environment. Protect/preserve breeding colonies and roosting/loafing areas; humans must remain 100 - 600 > 100 meters away; will require education and maybe surveillance. Ensure the availability of undisturbed, non-occupied potential breeding/roosting/loafing sites; pelicans move for known and unknown reasons, and habitat must be available to accommodate all aspects of their needs. Educate fishermen to remove hooks, lines, etc. from birds (and the environment), and stress that pelicans do not pose a threat to their livelihood.

Distribution
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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Breeding range extends along the Pacific coast from southern California to South America and along Atlantic, Gulf, and Caribbean coasts from Maryland south to Florida and westward to southern Texas, plus the Bahamas, West Indies, Yucatan Peninsula, and off Venezuela and the Caribbean coast of Colombia. During the nonbreeding season, brown pelicans range in Pacific coastal waters north to southern British Columbia (after breeding, before winter); in western North America, the species winters mainly from California south; in the southeastern U.S., the primary winter range includes Florida and the Gulf Coast.

Subspecies CAROLINENSIS: breeds locally in Maryland and Virginia and south to Florida (primary nesting range), also locally in Louisiana (where reintroduced) and in central coastal Texas; breeds locally also off northeastern Yucatan and Belize, and ranges southward through coastal Honduras and Costa Rica to Panama, where local breeding occurs off the Pacific coast; vagrants wander north to New England and occur casually inland to the Great Lakes and Great Plains states (Johnsgard 1993). Breeds also in the Bahamas (Sprunt 1984) (extirpated, according to Johnsgard 1993). Ranges throughout breeding range and along eastern shores of Mexico south along Central America to the Caribbean coasts of Colombia and Venezuela, and through the Greater and Lesser Antilles to Trinidad; and on the Pacific coast of Central America (AOU 1957).

Subspecies CALIFORNICUS: breeds along Pacific coast in southern California (Anacapa Island), and in Mexico on islands off Baja California and on islands in the Gulf of California (south to Isabella and the Tres Marias Islands); possibly locally along the coast of Sonora and Sinaloa; vagrants have occurred north to British Columbia and Idaho (Johnsgard 1993).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AZ, CA, DE, FL, GA, IL, LA, MD, MS, NC, NJ, NV, OR, SC, TX, VA, WA
Canada BC

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AL Mobile (01097)
CA Imperial (06025), Monterey (06053)*, San Diego (06073), Santa Barbara (06083), Ventura (06111)
FL Bay (12005), Brevard (12009), Charlotte (12015), Citrus (12017), Collier (12021), Franklin (12037), Glades (12043), Gulf (12045), Hillsborough (12057), Indian River (12061), Lee (12071), Levy (12075), Manatee (12081), Martin (12085), Miami-Dade (12086), Monroe (12087), Nassau (12089), Pinellas (12103), Sarasota (12115), St. Lucie (12111), Volusia (12127)
GA Camden (13039), Glynn (13127), Mcintosh (13191)
LA Cameron (22023), Jefferson (22051), Lafourche (22057)*, Plaquemines (22075), St. Bernard (22087), Terrebonne (22109)
MS Adams (28001), Bolivar (28011)*, Hancock (28045), Harrison (28047), Jackson (28059), Washington (28151)*
NC Brunswick (37019), Carteret (37031), Dare (37055), Hyde (37095), New Hanover (37129), Onslow (37133)
NV Churchill (32001)*
OR Coos (41011)*, Curry (41015), Lane (41039)*, Lincoln (41041)*, Tillamook (41057)*
SC Beaufort (45013), Charleston (45019)
TX Matagorda (48321), Nueces (48355)
VA Accomack (51001), Northampton (51131)
WA Pacific (53049)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 Eastern Lower Delmarva (02040304)+, Pokomoke-Western Lower Delmarva (02080111)+
03 Albemarle (03010205)+, Pamlico Sound (03020105)+, Lower Neuse (03020204)+, White Oak River (03020301)+, New River (03020302)+, Lower Cape Fear (03030005)+, South Carolina Coastal (03050202)+, Four Hole Swamp (03050206)+, Salkehatchie (03050207)+, Bulls Bay (03050209)+, St. Helena Island (03050210)+, Ogeechee Coastal (03060204)+, Altamaha (03070106)+, Cumberland-St. Simons (03070203)+, Daytona - St. Augustine (03080201)+, Cape Canaveral (03080202)+, Vero Beach (03080203)+, Lake Okeechobee (03090201)+, Everglades (03090202)+, Florida Bay-Florida Keys (03090203)+, Big Cypress Swamp (03090204)+, Caloosahatchee (03090205)+, Florida Southeast Coast (03090206)+, Peace (03100101)+, Charlotte Harbor (03100103)+, Sarasota Bay (03100201)+, Manatee (03100202)+, Hillsborough (03100205)+, Tampa Bay (03100206)+, Crystal-Pithlachascotee (03100207)+, Withlacoochee (03100208)+, Waccasassa (03110101)+, New (03130013)+, Apalachicola Bay (03130014)+, St. Andrew-St. Joseph Bays (03140101)+, Mobile Bay (03160205)+, Pascagoula (03170006)+*, Mississippi Coastal (03170009)+, Lower Pearl. Mississippi (03180004)+
08 Lower Mississippi-Helena (08020100)+*, Lower Mississippi-Greenville (08030100)+*, Big Sunflower (08030207)+*, Deer-Steele (08030209)+*, Homochitto (08060205)+, Lower Calcasieu (08080206)+, Lower Mississippi-New Orleans (08090100)+, Eastern Louisiana Coastal (08090203)+, East Central Louisiana Coastal (08090301)+, West Central Louisiana Coastal (08090302)+
12 Central Matagorda Bay (12100401)+, South Corpus Christi Bay (12110202)+
16 Carson Desert (16050203)+*
17 Grays Harbor (17100105)+, Willapa Bay (17100106)+, Wilson-Trusk-Nestuccu (17100203)+*, Siletz-Yaquina (17100204)+*, Alsea (17100205)+*, Coos (17100304)+*, Sixes (17100306)+*, Lower Rogue (17100310)+*, Chetco (17100312)+
18 Central Coastal (18060006)+*, Santa Barbara Channel Islands (18060014)+, Calleguas (18070103)+, Santa Monica Bay (18070104)+, San Pedro Channel Islands (18070107)+, San Diego (18070304)+, Salton Sea (18100204)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Brown Pelican, Pelecanidae
General Description: Brown pelicans have a long bill, extensible gular pouch, and all four toes joined by extensive webbing. During their first year, brown pelican are brown with a white belly. Over the next few years they attain adult characteristics. In adults, the upperparts are gray to gray-brown, the belly is black-brown, and the remainder of the undersurface is striped black and silver. The head and neck coloration of adults varies seasonally. The head is pale yellow and the neck is white during the postbreeding season. The head is yellow and neck is dark brown just before breeding. The head is white (sometimes speckled with dark feathers) and neck is brown when birds are nesting. Wingspan is about 79 inches (2 meters).

Size varies greatly depending on location, with the smallest individuals in the West Indies, medium birds on the coasts of the U.S. (Atlantic and Gulf), Central America, and Colombia and Ecuador, large birds on the coasts of California, Mexico, and Galapagos Islands, and very large in Peru and Chile (NGS 1983, Palmer 1962).

Diagnostic Characteristics: Differs from the white pelican (PELECANUS ERYTHRORHYNCHOS) in being mainly grayish brown overall instead of white.
Reproduction Comments: Along the west coast of North America, egg laying may occur from late winter to early spring (peak usually in March or April but may vary among colonies and from year to year). In southeastern North America, southern populations nest irregularly, usually beginning in late fall and extending through June; northernmost populations nest in spring and summer; intermediate populations nest, somewhat irregularly, in winter and spring. Clutch size averages 2-3. Incubation, by both sexes, lasts about 28-30 days. Young leave ground nests at about 35 days, first fly at 71-88 days; leave nests in mangroves at about 63 days. Some first breed at two years in some colonies (e.g., newly formed ones), possibly not until about four to seven years in stable populations (see Johnsgard 1993). Reproductive success varies with level of disturbance by humans, starvation of young, and/or flooding of nests, but typically the number of young fledged per nest averages one or less. This is a long-lived bird, and reproduction tends to be "boom or bust." Colonies include up to 150 pairs in Trinidad.
Ecology Comments: Populations fluctuate considerably from year to year and from place to place.
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Many stay close to nesting areas in winter. A portion of the eastern subspecies migrates to Florida, the Caribbean coasts of Colombia and Venezuela, and the Greater Antilles for winter. During cold winters, some Texas breeders winter along the Gulf Coast of Mexico. Individuals from breeding areas north of Florida winter mainly in Florida and Cuba; young and adults from Florida breeding colonies are more sedentary (young generally do not disperse more than 250 km from natal areas, adults may move up to 450-575 km from colony during the nonbreeding season) (Johnsgard 1993).
Marine Habitat(s): Near shore
Estuarine Habitat(s): Bay/sound, Lagoon, River mouth/tidal river, Scrub-shrub wetland
Palustrine Habitat(s): FORESTED WETLAND
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Bare rock/talus/scree, Cliff, Sand/dune
Habitat Comments: Brown pelicans inhabitat mainly coastal waters and rarely are seen inland or far out at sea. They feed mostly in shallow estuarine waters, less often up to 40 miles from shore. They make extensive use of sand spits, offshore sand bars, and islets for nocturnal roosting and daily loafing, especially nonbreeders and during the non-nesting season. Dry roosting sites are essential.

Nesting occurs usually on coastal islands, on the ground or in small bushes and trees (Palmer 1962), including the middle or upper parts of steep rocky slopes of small islands in California and Baja California and low-lying islands landward of barrier islands or reefs on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, where nests often are in mangroves, sometimes in Australian "pines," red-cedars, live oaks, redbays, or sea grapes. In the subtropics and tropics, mangrove vegetation constitutes an important roosting and nesting substrate (Collazo and Klaas 1985, Schreiber 1979, Schreiber and Schreiber 1982). Brown pelican may shift among different breeding sites, apparently in response to changing food supply distribution (Anderson and Gress 1983) and/or to erosion/flooding of nesting sites.

Adult Food Habits: Piscivore
Immature Food Habits: Piscivore
Food Comments: Eats mainly fishes, especially menhaden, mullet, sardines, pinfish, and anchovies in U.S. waters; sometimes euphausiids; dives into water from air (USFWS 1980). Feeds by diving in deeper water, by swimming, sometimes in cooperative groups, in shallower water (Hilty and Brown 1986). Rarely reported scavenging or preying on eggs or young of water birds. Forages in shallow estuarine and inshore waters mostly within 10 km of the coast (Johnsgard 1993).
Adult Phenology: Crepuscular, Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Crepuscular, Diurnal
Phenology Comments: Most activity diurnal, little during twilight.
Colonial Breeder: Y
Length: 122 centimeters
Weight: 3636 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Management concerns in the United States historically focused on environmental contaminants. Environmental contaminants, particularly DDT and its metabolites, were the most important factors threatening the continued existence of brown pelicans in the 1960s and 1970s. Since the banning of DDT in 1972 and regulation of the use and disposal of other organochlorines, pelicans have rebounded to historical levels or are increasing. In the past, potential conflicts with commercial fishing were an important factor affecting recovery potential (e.g., California populations). At present, however, exploitation of selected fisheries (e.g., anchovies) is not economically viable (D.W. Anderson, pers. comm.). Threats to essential habitats, human disturbance, and the need for continued population monitoring are molding current recovery and management efforts.
Species Impacts: As many other colonial birds, pelicans can cause vegetation defoliation or death as excrement builds up over time, assuming the site does not have "flushing or cleansing" attributes (e.g., mangrove islet). Despite the apparent damage of these sites, though, they should be afforded protection because pelicans tend to re-use traditional or old sites (Schreiber and Schreiber 1982).
Restoration Potential: Generally have responded well to restoration efforts. Recovery plans for the U.S. populations have been implemented and selected problematic organochlorines (e.g., DDT) have been banned/regulated. These actions enabled population recovery and led to federal delisting of populations along the Atlantic coast and in Florida and Alabama. Populations along the U.S. west coast have rebounded strongly and have been recommended for downgrading (from endangered to threatened) (D.W. Anderson, pers. comm.). Gulf coast populations are exhibiting increasing trends and successful reintroduction efforts continue (McNease et al. 1992). However, restoration actions implemented so far have not resulted in the recovery of populations in the U.S. Caribbean, where foraging habitat quality may be a problem. In many instances, habitat can be enhanced or created (e.g., spoil islands, jetties). These habitats provide important habitat for both roosting and nesting populations (Jaques and Anderson 1987, Parnell and Shields 1990).
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Elements for preserve selection and design include vegetation characteristics, size of island, distance to mainland, distance to nearest human disturbance, availability of sand bars, use patterns in the vicinity of the site in question, and historical use of the site (Collazo and Klaas 1986, Hingtgen and Mulholland 1983, Schreiber 1979, Schreiber and Schreiber 1982). Schreiber and Schreiber (1982) stressed the need to protect not only nesting sites but also loafing and roosting sites because these sites could eventually become nesting sites. They also suggested that sand bars are important to juveniles lacking sufficient skills to land on trees. Traditional sites deserve special protection because they tend to be re-used for many years.

In the tropics and subtropics, mangroves constitute an important nesting and roosting substrate. In the U.S. Caribbean, structural suitability of mangrove sites can be assessed by using a linear classification rule (discriminant function analysis) based on structural variables of roosting and nesting sites (Collazo and Klaas 1985).

Human disturbance is a critical factor in the suitability of roosting and nesting habitat (Schreiber 1979, Schreiber and Schreiber 1982). Precise figures of undesirable levels of human disturbance are difficult to assess a priori. Available information suggests that human disturbance should not be allowed within 100 to 600 meters of roosting or nesting site (Jaques and Anderson 1987, Anderson 1988, Collazo and Klaas 1986, Schreiber 1979). Variability in threshold distances is attributed to the levels of disturbance to which pelicans previously have been exposed. In some cases (e.g., U.S. Caribbean, California), high levels of human disturbance is tolerated because there is vertical separation between birds (e.g., roosting/nesting on a cliff) and the source of disturbance. In those cases, efforts should be made to avoid providing access to humans (e.g., recreational) (Jaques and Anderson 1987).

Management Requirements: The recovery plans for each population (i.e., California, Eastern, Caribbean) outline recovery and conservation actions required to delist the species. See also California Department of Fish and Game (1990) for information on management actions and needs for the Southern California Bight population.

Environmental contaminants are not considered limiting factors for any population at present. Recovery and management efforts for those populations still designated as endangered are more focused on habitat degradation, human disturbance, and maintaining consistent monitoring efforts (e.g., numbers, productivity). Human disturbance (e.g., recreational boating, poaching) disrupts pelican reproductive output. Disturbance is not only detrimental to nesting efforts, but it may affect distribution patterns and age structure of pelicans using roosting sites during the nonreproductive season (Jaques and Anderson 1987).

Monitoring Requirements: Pelicans are long-lived species with deferred maturation. Monitoring for 8-15 years may be needed to adequately ascertain population status (Crivelli and Anderson 1984, Schreiber 1979). Monitoring population numbers has generally entailed the use of a combination of aerial and boat censuses (Jaques and Anderson 1987, Collazo and Klaas 1985). Monitoring breeding productivity, marking juveniles for movement, or survival studies need to be scheduled carefully to avoid nest failures or juvenile injuries. Recommendations outlined in the recovery plans and by Anderson and Keith (1980) and Schreiber (1979) should be followed or used as initial guidelines. An index to assess the status of the species through a combination of minimum colony visits and population counts was outlined by Schreiber and Schreiber (1983).

Contaminant evaluations are expensive and should be conducted when available evidence suggest their presence (e.g., eggshell thinning, die-offs) or as part of a long-term monitoring program (e.g., every 10 years in the U.S. Caribbean). Events such as oil spills need to be monitored.

Food is an important factor influencing population fluctuations in seabirds. Fluctuations for Peruvian and California populations in association with El Nino events have been well documented (e.g., Schreiber 1983). While little can be done to mitigate the effects of oceanic factors (e.g., El Nino, upwellings), the prey base (e.g., sardines, anchovies) can be affected by overexploitation (e.g., Anderson et al. 1982) and habitat degradation. Prey fluctuations through available indices (e.g., landings) should be part of long-term monitoring efforts.

Programs for monitoring habitat quality of coastal ecosystems in the tropics should be designed and implemented. In the tropics and subtropics, siltation affects the health of important nursery habitat for prey species (Cintron and Schaeffer-Novelli, 1983, Velazco et. al. 1985). Factors affecting food availability are believed to be important in the decline of populations in the U.S. Caribbean. However, there is a need to partition the effects of habitat degradation at the local scale and oceanic factors at a broader scale to better understand observed population fluctuations and determine whether corrective measures at the local levels can be formulated and implemented.

Management Research Needs: Management/research needs are outlined in the recovery plans. Needs for California and Gulf populations are focused on monitoring efforts. For the California population, there is a need to revise the operational definition for a recovered population such that it is based on cumulative information (D.W. Anderson, pers. comm.).

In the U.S. Caribbean, recovery efforts should be directed to monitoring breeding productivity and evaluating foraging habitat quality. It is necessary to partition the potential effects of foraging habitat degradation from oceanic influences. The following specific research needs have been identified as a result of the ongoing status review of the species sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

1) Productivity: There is a need to obtain accurate estimates of breeding productivity (i.e., chicks per breeding pair). These estimates, as in the early 1980s, should be obtained from as many colonies as possible.

2) Food availability: This is perhaps the underlying factor affecting pelicans in the U.S. Caribbean at present. While difficult to tackle, there is a need to gain insights on the quality and quantity of resources by focusing on the following: a) monitor prey levels at selected sites--there are baseline data from these sites for comparative purposes; b) monitor prey species composition and size frequency brought to young by adults at selected colonies--this would be considered an index of present conditions vs. early 1980s (there are baseline data on these metrics); ancillary data could consist of monitoring where pelicans are going to get their prey and develop an index to evaluate prey availability at feeding sites; c) monitor "bait" fish landings in Puerto Rico--this is a broad category including anchovies and sardines; both groups, however, are consumed by pelicans; data should be useful to test for trends (after applying correction factors) and as an index of general food availability; data could be broken down by point of origin (e.g., fishermen village).

3) Habitat degradation: Research available literature on causes and effects of siltation on tropical coastal ecosystems, and identify any ongoing work documenting and/or monitoring such effects.

4) Movements: There is a possibility that dispersal patterns of U.S. Virgin Islands birds may have changed. In the 1980s, 47% of the juveniles banded in the U.S. Virgin Islands were recorded in Puerto Rico. A decrease in the proportion of birds moving to Puerto Rico coupled with lower productivity in the U.S. Virgin Islands could help explain the low numbers recorded during recent surveys (i.e., 1993-95).

Biological Research Needs: Continued research needed range wide on the effects of poisons and pesticides, disease, and parasitism in the population. Life history study of this long-lived species is needed to determine better habitat requirements, limiting factors, and natural mortality.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
Help
Group Name: Colonial Seabirds

Use Class: Breeding
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Breeding Colony
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical breeding , or current and likely recurring breeding, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.
Mapping Guidance: Map foraging areas as separate polygons if they are separated from the breeding colony by areas simply flown over on commuting routes.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Alternate Separation Procedure: Where colonies are closer than 5 kilometers, separate occurrences may be created if research shows little genetic mixing between colonies.
Separation Justification: Occurrences include nesting and foraging areas, but occurrence separations are based on nesting areas (i.e., distance between nesting areas, regardless of foraging locations). Hence, different occurrences may overlap.

Occurrences are not based on discrete populations or metapopulations. Instead, the separation distance is arbitrarily small such that occurrences are of of practical size for data management purposes.

Evidence from a number of species of seabirds indicates that even though the 'home ranges' of individual nesting seabirds may be immense when foraging trips are taken into account, little movement or feeding overlap may occur between nearby colonies. For example, Thick-billed Murres may commute up to 170 kilometers one way on a feeding trip from the colony, but birds from a colony only 8 kilometers away may forage in a completely different direction; even birds from different sub-colonies only 1.5 kilometers apart mostly fed in completely separate areas (Gaston and Hipfner 2000).

Most seabirds have strong breeding site fidelity; e.g., Thick-billed Murres (Gaston and Hipfner 2000, Gaston et al. 1994), Gray-backed Tern (Mostello et al. 2000), Red-footed Booby (Schreiber et al. 1996).

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): 2 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Somewhat arbitrary, but generally very conservative for this group, many members of which travel long distances to foraging grounds.
Date: 20Oct2004
Author: Cannings, S., and G. Hammerson

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Subtype(s): Feeding area, Loafing site, Roosting site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of recurring presence of flocks of nonbreeding birds (including historical), including nonbreeding birds within the breeding season and breeding individuals outside the breeding season; and potential recurring presence at a given location. Normally only areas where concentrations greater than 25 birds regularly occur for more than 20 days per year would be deemed EOs; the number of individuals may be reduced for very rare species. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance arbitrary; defined this small to aid in conservation planning. Sites more than 10 kilometers apart may be joined as one occurrence if research shows that predominantly the same individuals are using both sites.
Date: 07Mar2001
Author: Cannings, S.
Population/Occurrence Viability
Help
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
Help
Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 01Feb2010
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: NeSmith, C. C., D. R. Jackson, & G. Hammerson
Management Information Edition Date: 10May1995
Management Information Edition Author: COLLAZO, J.; REVISIONS BY G. HAMMERSON, M. KOENEN, AND D. MEHLMAN.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 01Feb2010
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

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