Our Research

LBCS’s field research station on East Limestone Island allows visitors and local students to gain hands-on biological research experience in a wilderness setting.  We collect data on seabirds, with our main focus on the Ancient Murrelet, a small seabird listed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) as of “Special Concern” – meaning they have certain characteristics that make them particularly sensitive to human activities or natural events. Research methods are taught to volunteers and students by two field biologists and our work is guided by a Science Advisory Committee, headed by world-renowned seabird biologist Tony Gaston.  Our data is published annually; the LBCS science reports are available in PDF format from this website. LBCS also monitors other seabirds and shorebirds, marine mammals, cavity nesting birds and we keep an inventory of plants on East Limestone Island.  The field research station is active from May through July each year and we have an office in the Village of Queen Charlotte open year-round.

What We Study

Seabirds and Shorebirds

Forest Birds

Ancient Murrelets Cavity Nesters
Cassin's Aucklets Songbirds
Storm Petrels Bald Eagles
Black Oystercatchers Peregrine Falcons
Glaucous-winged Gulls Birds of prey

Introduced Species

We study the following introduced species to find out how they interact with and change the native ecosystems:

  • Deer
  • Squirrels
  • Racoons

Marine Mammals

We record all sightings of marine mammals and keep detailed year-to-year records. These records are sent to a large number of people doing research on individual species. A sighting can occur at anytime - while on a sea survey, at the observation point on East Limestone Island, from the cabins or the shoreline. We identify the species and record the number of animals, their behaviour, location, direction of travel and time of encounter.

  • Killer whales
  • Humpback whales
  • Grey whales

Rare Plants

We inventory plant species on East Limestone Island, record blooming dates for flowering species and map the species and their locations. We also track rare and introduced species. We have complied a comprehensive plant checklist
 for the region, and we also study a number of lichen.

Our Research Methods

  • Gathering ground count
  • Departing chick count
  • Evening point counts
  • Predation transects
  • At-Sea Surveys




Camp set-up Glaucous-winged Gull surveys Camp shutdown
Install plastic funnels for chick capture Black Oystercatcher surveys**
Host students from Project Limestone and boat visitors Birds of prey monitoring
Ancient Murrelet chick work (funnel watch and chick capture) Check nest sites for Cassin's Aucklets and Red-breasted Sapsuckers
Check nest sites for birds of prey, Cassin's Aucklets, Black Oystercatchers and Glaucous-winged Gulls

Conducted in all months

Daily bird checklist
Monitor wildlife trees
Plant surveys
Conduct at-sea surveys
Marine mammal watch
Watch for squirrel and raccon activity

*NIGHT WORK: During the month of May, we start our Ancient Murrelet night time monitoring work (11pm-3am) and may have some visits from school groups in the evenings.

**Last weeks of May and June are spent conducting Black Oystercatcher surveys in Gwaii Haanas. During this time we only spend one or two nights on Limestone Island, the rest is spent camping in Gwaii Haanas. Each day involves +8hours in our skiff surveying the various islands for oystercatchers and their nests.