Over the past 30 years, the common murre (Uria aalge californica) has been recognized as a prominent indicator of marine conservation issues in California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, especially regarding oil pollution, certain fisheries, and human disturbance. To assist the effective management of the common murre and the marine environments in which they live, this summary of available information on the biology and regional status of the common murre has been sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Division of Migratory Bird Management). In Volume 1 (Chapter 1), the natural history of the common murre is summarized, drawing heavily on breeding studies from the South Farallon Islands, California, plus a host of detailed breeding studies from the North Atlantic Ocean. Population trends of the common murre are summarized in Volume 1 (Chapter 2), focusing on changes in whole-colony counts determined from aerial photographs between the late 1970s and 1995 in California, Oregon and Washington. Historical data and human impacts to murre colonies since the early nineteenth century are also summarized. Volume 2 will summarize population threats, conservation, and management.
Information presented in Volume 1 has been obtained and recorded by a large number of researchers and natural historians over two centuries. From the 1960s to 1995, most work in California, Oregon, and Washington was sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Minerals Management Service, and California Department of Fish and Game. Important breeding biology studies were conducted at the South Farallon Islands (Farallon National Wildlife Refuge) by the Point Reyes Bird Observatory, in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge). Colony surveys in California were conducted mainly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge), U.S. Geological Survey (Western Ecological Research Center, Dixon Field Station), Humboldt State University, and University of California (Santa Cruz). Colony surveys in Oregon and Washington were conducted mainly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge and Washington Maritime National Wildlife Refuges). In British Columbia, most work from the 1960s to 1995 was sponsored and conducted by the Canadian Wildlife Service and Royal British Columbia Museum.