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Moritz S. Schmid, PhD student at Université Laval, Québec, Canada with the Takuvik Joint International Laboratory

My seabird related work deals with the marbled murrelet (Brachyrampus marmoratus) and spatial modeling using machine learning algorithms.

The marbled murrelet is very interesting due to its habit to breed on thick epiphyte layers preferably up in branches of trees. This makes the temperate rainforest region of the US and Canadian West Coast to a preferred habitat. Unfortunately his habitat has been and is still shrinking due to its destruction, mostly through heavy logging. Invasive species are also a big issue on Haida Gwaii. The sitka black-tailed deer shows very high densities and negatively affects epiphyte mats on the ground.

For this project I teamed up with Prof. Falk Huettmann and Lisa Strecker from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Our project aims at model predicting epiphyte parameters as important habitat layers on Haida Gwaii (former Queen Charlotte Islands) and to determine the effect of anthropogenic disturbance on these layers on a spatial scale. Epiphytes are also very important regarding climate buffering, potential positive feedback loops in climate change scenarios and by providing microclimate and a macro niche for all kinds of organisms from fungi and arthropods to marbled murrelets. Work on the marbled murrelet has already a long history and is a heavily debated topic. Just recently the issue has been in the news again. See here for a recent example: “Federal Court Rejects Logging Industry Attack on Threatened Seabird“ Click Here for article. For this work, which started off as part of my M.Sc., which I would later really write on modeling zooplankton under changing future climate, I was able to spend one month hiking on Haida Gwaii and measuring epiphytes, a truly amazing landscape that can offer you anything you want. If you ever have time, go there for hiking, beachcombing, fishing, (sea) kayaking and immersion into First Nation culture.

I especially recommend checking out the North Beach of Haida Gwaii with a nice campground directly on the beach. When I camped there on my own I was quite distressed by all the noises I heard through the night. Beware of Black Bears! The beach is made of big stones, so be young and/or adventurous or bring a really good mattress.

Currently I am writing up the work I described here, so stay tuned.

As part of the team I will also be responsible for the highlighted researchers section which I am spearheading with this article. If you want to be featured here send me an email at: I am looking forward to receive your abstracts.

Although I am working with the team and on my marbled murrelet project I am now a PhD student in Oceanography working on optical imaging and automatic classification of planktonic organisms in the Subarctic and Arctic. However, there is obviously a strong link to seabirds.

For more information on my work click Here to visit my Homepage