Seabird Ecological Assessment Network (SEANET) volunteers conduct beached bird surveys along the east coast of the United States in order to identify and record information about bird mortality. Volunteers examine the spatial pattern of bird carcass deposition and how it varies across time. The project brings together interdisciplinary researchers and citizen scientists in a long-term collaborative effort to identify and mitigate threats to marine birds. These surveys provide baseline information about bird mortality and help to detect mass mortality events such as oil spills, algal toxins, and disease outbreaks. Marine birds can serve as indicators of ecosystem and human health; monitoring the threats they face and their mortality patterns can teach us about the health of the marine environment. This project relies heavily on a working partnership between concerned citizens with an incomparable understanding of local ecosystems and natural phenomena, and scientists with the training and knowledge to synthesize and verify the data generated by local residents. Through this synergistic relationship, scientists exponentially increase the amount and range of data they can access, and residents come to see the larger patterns and trends of which their local ecosystem is a part.
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