Marsh bird occupancy of wetlands managed for waterfowl in the Midwestern USA.
ABSTRACT: Marsh birds (rallids, bitterns, and grebes) depend on emergent wetlands, and habitat loss and degradation are the primary suspected causes for population declines among many marsh bird species. We evaluated the effect of natural wetland characteristics, wetland management practices, and surrounding landscape characteristics on marsh bird occupancy in Illinois during late spring and early summer 2015-2017. We conducted call-back surveys following the North American Standardized Marsh Bird Survey Protocol three times annually at all sites (2015 n = 49, 2016 n = 57, 2017 n = 55). Across all species and groups, detection probability declined 7.1% ± 2.1 each week during the marsh bird survey period. Wetlands managed for waterfowl (ducks, geese, and swans) had greater occupancy than reference wetlands. Marsh bird occupancy increased with greater wetland complexity, intermediate levels of waterfowl management intensity, greater proportions of surface water inundation, and greater proportions of persistent emergent vegetation cover. Wetland management practices that retain surface water during the growing season, encourage perennial emergent plants (e.g., Typha sp.), and increase wetland complexity could be used to provide habitat suitable for waterfowl and marsh birds.
Project description:Suisun Marsh (Solano County, California) is the largest contiguous marsh remaining on the West Coast of the United States, and makes up approximately 10% of the wetlands remaining in the San Francisco Estuary. Suisun Marsh has been safeguarded from development through the operation of over 100 privately owned waterfowl hunting clubs, which manage for diked waterfowl habitat. However, this management-and the subsequent loss of tidal influence-has been considered harmful for some species, including the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse (SMHM; Reithrodontomys raviventris). To determine the value of tidal wetlands relative to those managed for waterfowl, we performed periodic surveys for rodents in managed and tidal wetlands over 5 years, and used capture-mark-recapture analyses to estimate demographic parameters and abundance for the three most common rodents-the northern SMHM (R. r. halicoetes), the western harvest mouse (a sympatric native species; R. megalotis, WHM), and the house mouse (a sympatric invasive species; Mus musculus). Wetland type had no effect on detection, temporary emigration, or survival for any of these species. However, fecundity and population growth for all three species were affected by an interaction of season and wetland type, although none of these parameters was consistently superior in either habitat type. Estimated abundance of SMHM and Mus was similar in both wetland types, whereas WHM were more abundant in managed wetlands. Salt marsh harvest mice also showed no affinity for any microhabitat characteristics associated with tidal wetlands. Managed wetlands in Suisun Marsh support SMHM and Mus equally, and abundances of WHM were greater than in tidal wetlands, suggesting managed wetlands may be superior in terms of supporting native rodents. As climate change and sea level rise are predicted to threaten coastal marshes, these results suggest the recovery strategy for SMHM could incorporate managed wetlands.
Project description:Palustrine wetland management across the USA is often conducted under a moist soil management framework aimed at providing energetic resources for non-breeding waterfowl. Moist soil management techniques typically include seasonal water-level manipulations and mechanical soil disturbance to create conditions conducive to germination and growth of early successional, seed-producing wetland plants. The assumption is that providing stopover and wintering habitat for non-breeding waterfowl will also accommodate life-history needs of a broader suite of migratory waterbirds including shorebirds, wading birds and marsh birds. Although studies of wetlands provide some evidence to support this assumption for shorebirds and wading birds, there is less information on how other marshbirds respond. Sora (Porzana carolina) are a species of migratory rail that depend on wetlands year round as they migrate across North America. It is a species for which the consequences of wetland management decisions directed towards non-breeding waterfowl are unknown. We conducted nocturnal surveys on 10 public properties in Missouri, USA during autumn migration during 2012-2016 to examine sora habitat use in wetland impoundments managed to enhance the production of moist soil vegetation. We found a positive relationship with sora presence and mean water depth and annual moist soil vegetation; sora used, on average, deeper water than was available across surveyed impoundments and used locations with a higher percentage of annual moist soil vegetation than was available. We found a negative relationship with sora use and upland vegetation, woody vegetation and open water. We found sora using deeper water than have previously been reported for autumn migration, and that moist soil management techniques used on Missouri's intensively managed public wetland areas may be compatible with sora autumn migration stopover habitat requirements.
Project description:Plant invasions result in biodiversity losses and altered ecological functions, though quantifying loss of multiple ecosystem functions presents a research challenge. Plant phylogenetic diversity correlates with a range of ecosystem functions and can be used as a proxy for ecosystem multifunctionality. Laurentian Great Lakes coastal wetlands are ideal systems for testing invasive species management effects because they support diverse biological communities, provide numerous ecosystem services, and are increasingly dominated by invasive macrophytes. Invasive cattails are among the most widespread and abundant of these taxa. We conducted a three-year study in two Great Lakes wetlands, testing the effects of a gradient of cattail removal intensities (mowing, harvest, complete biomass removal) within two vegetation zones (emergent marsh and wet meadow) on plant taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity. To evaluate native plant recovery potential, we paired this with a seed bank emergence study that quantified diversity metrics in each zone under experimentally manipulated hydroperiods. Pretreatment, we found that wetland zones had distinct plant community composition. Wet meadow seed banks had greater taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity than emergent marsh seed banks, and high-water treatments tended to inhibit diversity by reducing germination. Aboveground harvesting of cattails and their litter increased phylogenetic diversity and species richness in both zones, more than doubling richness compared to unmanipulated controls. In the wet meadow, harvesting shifted the community toward an early successional state, favoring seed bank germination from early seral species, whereas emergent marsh complete removal treatments shifted the community toward an aquatic condition, favoring floating-leaved plants. Removing cattails and their litter increased taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity across water levels, a key environmental gradient, thereby potentially increasing the multifunctionality of these ecosystems. Killing invasive wetland macrophytes but leaving their biomass in situ does not address their underlying mechanism of dominance and is less effective than more intensive treatments that also remove their litter.
Project description:Human actions have led to loss and degradation of wetlands, impairing their suitability as habitat especially for waterbirds. Such negative effects may be mitigated through habitat management. To date scientific evidence regarding the impacts of these actions remains scarce. We studied guild specific abundances of breeding and staging birds in response to habitat management on 15 Finnish wetlands. In this study management actions comprised several means of vegetation removal to thwart overgrowth. Management cost efficiency was assessed by examining the association between site-specific costs and bird abundances. Several bird guilds exhibited positive connections with both habitat management as well as with invested funds. Most importantly, however, red-listed species and species with special conservation concern as outlined by the EU showed positive correlations with management actions, underlining the conservation value of wetland management. The results suggest that grazing was especially efficient in restoring overgrown wetlands. As a whole this study makes it clear that wetland habitat management constitutes a feasible conservation tool. The marked association between invested funds and bird abundance may prove to be a valuable tool for decision makers when balancing costs and impact of conservation measures against one another.
Project description:Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus, subtype H5N1, constitutes one of the world's most important health and economic concerns given the catastrophic impact of epizootics on the poultry industry, the high mortality attending spillover in humans, and its potential as a source subtype for a future pandemic. Nevertheless, we still lack an adequate understanding of HPAI H5N1 epidemiology and infection ecology. The nature of the wild waterfowl-poultry interface, and the sharing of diverse wetland habitat among these birds, currently underscore important knowledge gaps. India has emerged as a global hotspot for HPAI H5N1, while also providing critical wintering habitat for many species of migratory waterfowl and year-round habitat for several resident waterfowl species. The current study sought to examine the extent to which the wild waterfowl-poultry interface, varied wetland habitat, and climate influence HPAI H5N1 epizootics in poultry in India. Using World Organisation for Animal Health reported outbreaks, this study showed that the wild waterfowl-poultry interface and lacustrine, riparian, and coastal marsh wetland systems were strongly associated with landscape suitability, and these relationships varied by scale. Although increasing poultry density was associated with increasing risk, this was only the case in the absence of wild waterfowl habitat, and only at a local scale. In landscapes increasingly shared between wild waterfowl and poultry, suitability was greater among lower density poultry, again at a local scale only. These findings provide further insight into the occurrence of HPAI H5N1 in India and suggest important landscape targets for blocking the waterfowl-poultry interface to interrupt virus transmission and prevent future outbreaks.
Project description:Accounting for imperfect detection is an important process when obtaining estimates of density or abundance for breeding birds, and this is particularly true when researchers are monitoring birds to assess the success of restored wetlands. Due to the dramatic decline in areal cover and habitat quality, wetland restoration in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) is critically important to breeding birds. The Shallow Lakes Restoration Project (SLRP), a partnership between the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Ducks Unlimited, Inc., aims to restore degraded shallow lakes throughout the Iowa PPR. We conducted unlimited-radius point counts with call-broadcast surveys for breeding marsh birds at 30 shallow lakes in various stages of restoration in 2016 and 2017. Our goals were to assess the impact of covariates on detection probability and estimate density of these species at non-restored, younger (1-5 years since restoration), and older (6-11 years since restoration) restorations. Detection probability ranged between 0.07 ± 0.009 (SE) for Red-winged Blackbird and 0.40 ± 0.09 (SE) for Common Yellowthroat. Percent cattail had a positive quadratic effect on detection probability for four species, with detection decreasing sharply as percent cattail increased and increasing slightly with 100% cattail cover. Wind speed negatively influenced the detection probability of Pied-billed Grebes but had a negative quadratic effect on the detection probability of Marsh Wrens. Both restored shallow lakes had greater densities of breeding Pied-billed Grebes, Marsh Wrens, and Yellow-headed Blackbirds than non-restored shallow lakes, but there was no significant difference between younger and older restorations. Including both habitat and environmental covariates on models for detection probability can improve the precision of estimates for density and should be considered when assessing bird populations pre- and post-restoration of shallow lakes.
Project description:We used a first-of-its-kind comprehensive scenario approach to evaluate both the vertical and horizontal response of tidal wetlands to projected changes in the rate of sea-level rise (SLR) across 14 estuaries along the Pacific coast of the continental United States. Throughout the U.S. Pacific region, we found that tidal wetlands are highly vulnerable to end-of-century submergence, with resulting extensive loss of habitat. Using higher-range SLR scenarios, all high and middle marsh habitats were lost, with 83% of current tidal wetlands transitioning to unvegetated habitats by 2110. The wetland area lost was greater in California and Oregon (100%) but still severe in Washington, with 68% submerged by the end of the century. The only wetland habitat remaining at the end of the century was low marsh under higher-range SLR rates. Tidal wetland loss was also likely under more conservative SLR scenarios, including loss of 95% of high marsh and 60% of middle marsh habitats by the end of the century. Horizontal migration of most wetlands was constrained by coastal development or steep topography, with just two wetland sites having sufficient upland space for migration and the possibility for nearly 1:1 replacement, making SLR threats particularly high in this region and generally undocumented. With low vertical accretion rates and little upland migration space, Pacific coast tidal wetlands are at imminent risk of submergence with projected rates of rapid SLR.
Project description:Grasslands, and the depressional wetlands that exist throughout them, are endangered ecosystems that face both climate and land-use change pressures. Tens of millions of dollars are invested annually to manage the existing fragments of these ecosystems to serve as critical breeding habitat for migratory birds. The North American Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) contains millions of depressional wetlands that produce between 50% and 80% of the continent's waterfowl population. Previous modeling efforts suggested that climate change would result in a shift of suitable waterfowl breeding habitat from the central to the southeast portion of the PPR, an area where over half of the depressional wetlands have been drained. The implications of these projections suggest a massive investment in wetland restoration in the southeastern PPR would be needed to sustain waterfowl populations at harvestable levels. We revisited these modeled results indicating how future climate may impact the distribution of waterfowl-breeding habitat using up-to-date climate model projections and a newly developed model for simulating prairie-pothole wetland hydrology. We also presented changes to the number of "May ponds," a metric used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to estimate waterfowl breeding populations and establish harvest regulations. Based on the output of 32 climate models and two emission scenarios, we found no evidence that the distribution of May ponds would shift in the future. However, our results projected a 12% decrease to 1% increase in May pond numbers when comparing the most recent climate period (1989-2018) to the end of the 21st century (2070-2099). When combined, our results suggest areas in the PPR that currently support the highest densities of intact wetland basins, and thus support the largest numbers of breeding-duck pairs, will likely also be the places most critical to maintaining continental waterfowl populations in an uncertain future.
Project description:Monitoring wetland dynamics and related land-use changes over long-time periods is essential to understanding wetland evolution and supporting knowledge-based conservation policies. Combining multi-source remote sensing images, this study identifies the dynamics of marshes, a core part of wetlands, in the Small Sanjiang Plain (SSP), from 1965 to 2015. The influence of human activities on marsh patterns is estimated quantitatively by the trajectory analysis method. The results indicate that the marsh area decreased drastically by 53.17% of the total SSP area during the study period, which covered the last five decades. The marsh mostly transformed to paddy field and dry farmland in the SSP from 1965 to 2015, indicating that agricultural encroachment was the dominant contributor to marsh degradation in the area. Analysis of the landscape indexes indicates that marsh fragmentation was aggravated during the past five decades in the SSP. Trajectory analysis also indicated that human activities have acted as the primary driving force of marsh changes in the SSP since 1965. This study provides scientific information to better understand the evolution of the wetland and to implement ecological conservation and sustainable management of the wetlands in the future.
Project description:Accelerating and severe wetland loss has made wetland restoration increasingly important. Current wetland restorations do not take into consideration the ecological adaptability of wetland plants at large scales, which likely affects their long-term restoration success. We explored the ecological adaptability, including plant life forms and phylogenetic diversity, of plants across 28 wetlands in China. We found that perennial herbs were more common than annual herbs, with the proportion of perennial herbs accounting for 40-50%, 45-65%, 45-70%, 50-60%, and 60-80% of species in coastal wetlands, human-made wetlands, lake wetlands, river wetlands, and marsh wetlands, respectively. A ranking of phylogenetic diversity indices (PDIs) showed an order of marsh < river < coastal < lake < human-made, meaning that human-made wetlands had the highest phylogenetic diversity and marsh wetlands had the lowest phylogenetic diversity. The nearest taxon index (NTI) was positive in 23 out of 28 wetlands, indicating that species were phylogenetically clustered in wetland habitats. Dominant species tended to be distantly related to non-dominant species, as were alien invasive species and native species. Our study indicated that annual herbs and perennial herbs were found in different proportions in different types of wetlands and that species were phylogenetically clustered in wetland habitats. To improve wetland restoration, we suggest screening for native annual herbs and perennial herbs in proportions that occur naturally and the consideration of the phylogenetic similarity to dominant native species.