Electron microscope image of bird's feather
Overview of our Research Program
Oiled wildlife response is a young science, with new and better methods discovered during every spill. Because of this, conducting and supporting research is a cornerstone of the OWCN's continuous effort to improve oiled wildlife response.
To develop innovative techniques to improve our ability to rehabilitate oiled birds and mammals, the OWCN encourages research on a number of different fronts:
Supporting hypothesis-driven research conducted by the best possible investigators helps to broaden our knowledge base on both acute and long-term effects of oil in our environment. The OWCN strongly encourages collaborative research projects by funding studies conducted by our members and the research community. Each year we sponsor as much as $250,000 toward projects relating to the effects of oil on wildlife.
The OWCN is critically interested in better understanding the short- and long-term fate of animals that are oiled, captured, rehabilitated and released. To date, we have conducted several large-scale post-release studies on oiled seabirds that have shown survival is better than previously thought.
Current Project: Twelve brown pelicans from the Refugio Oil Spill that were released after oiling, washing, and rehabilitation were outfitted with satellite GPS tags, and an additional 8 unoiled pelicans were captured and tagged as controls. We'll be comparing the movements, distance traveled, and presence in breeding colonies of the rehabilitated and control birds over the next years. View a live map of the tracking.
Our in-house research program, conducted by OWCN staff scientists, focuses on developing the most effective capture and rehabilitation techniques for oiled wildlife. Projects have included the development of better and more rapid diagnostic tests, investigations into the effectiveness of fluids and nutrients given to oiled birds, and improvements to the tools and facilities used during rehabilitation.
To promote OWCN Member Organization’s efforts to identify new and better ways of capturing and caring for oiled animals, we offer a Research Mentorship Program that fosters innovative ideas by OWCN Member Organizations; assists researchers to develop complete project descriptions; and further advances knowledge of best achievable care of oiled wildlife.