Investigations of avian use of the RI Ocean SAMP study area were initiated in January 2009 by Investigators Peter Paton and Scott McWilliams of the URI Department of Natural Resources Science. To view their interim report click here.

Research conducted to date includes a combination of:

  • Systematic land-based point counts per month at 11 sites along the Rhode Island coast line (Jan 2009 to August 2010),where over 120 species and over 500,000 detections have been recorded;
  • Monthly boat-based line transect surveys throughout the Ocean SAMP study area (March 2009 to August 2010);
  • Monthly aerial surveys of the entire SAMP study area (Oct 2009 to the present (January 2011); and
  • Radar data 24 hrs per day/7 days per week from mid-March to mid-Dec 2009 and mid-Feb to mid-March 2010 on Block Island to assess avian movement ecology (i.e., flight elevation, timing of avian targets passing over the island, flight directions).


The current research is aimed at adding to this data, with greater emphasis on understanding the migration, abundance and spatial distribution of avian species within the federal waters of the Ocean SAMP. Specifically, new research will:

  • Assess seasonal variation in the spatial distribution of birds in federal lease blocks;
  • Evaluate seasonal variation in the density of birds in federal lease blocks; and
  • Compare the current distribution of birds in federal lease blocks to historical survey data, if it exists.