Santa Barbara Island

An extensive alcid habitat restoration program was initiated in 2007 in order to facilitate recovery of the Scripps’s murrelet and Cassin’s auklet populations on SBI by increasing the amount of suitable nesting habitat for these seabirds. This comprehensive effort, primarily funded by MSRP, was piloted by a dedicated ‘seabird crew’ consisting of staff from CIES, NPS, and FWS along with the help of hundreds of volunteers. The program aims to accomplish its goal of increasing the amount of suitable nesting habitat for alcids by removing invasive plant species (e.g., crystalline iceplant/non-native annual grasses) and restoring sites with native plant species grown on-island. Staff conduct vegetation surveys biannually to track percent cover over time as well as native plant survivor ship in the first year. Seabird nest monitoring is conducted in conjunction with restoration work to provide critical insight into restoration progress, efficacy, and understanding of factors that may be affecting the nesting seabirds of Santa Barbara Island.

Native plant propagation was conducted in an on-island facility from seeds collected on island from 2007-2015. Some of the species grown on island for outplanting were:

  • California and Island Sage (Artemesia californica; Artemesia nesiotica)
  • Giant Coreopsis (Coreopsis gigantea)
  • Silver Lace (Constancea nevinii)
  • Santa Barbara Island Buckwheat (Eriogonum giganteum var. compactum)
  • Boxthorn (Lycium californicum)
  • Sueda (Sueda taxifolia)
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
  •  Salt Bush (Atriplex californica)
  • Island Morning Glory (Calystegia macrostegia)

There are currently five plots being actively maintained on the island, with the goal of restoring functional native plant communities to the island (for the purpose of improving seabird nesting habitat), including sea cliff scrub, coastal sage scrub, boxthorn scrub and maritime cactus scrub. Plot maintenance involves hand weeding to remove non-native invasive species, Outplanting propogated plants, and watering plots one year post outplanting. Nonnative species that are removed primarily include:

  • Annual and crystalline ice plant (Mesembryanthemum nodiflorum; Mesembryanthemum crystallinum)
  • Annual grasses, cheese weed (Malva parviflora)
  • Australian saltbush (Atriplex semibaccata)
  • Nettle leaf goosefoot(Chenopodium murale).