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Tuesday, January 30 • 9:20am - 9:40am
SYMPOSIA-08: Marsh Bird Occupancy of Wetlands in the Glacial Habitat Restoration Area of Wisconsin

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AUTHORS. Rachel Schultz, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Jacob Straub, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Jason Fleener, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Brian Glenzinski, Ducks Unlimited Inc.; Scott Hygnstrom, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Greg Kidd, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; Kurt Waterstradt, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

ABSTRACT. In the last 200 years, Wisconsin lost approximately 5 million acres of wetlands, and a greater percentage of wetlands were lost in the southern half of the state than in the north. To reverse the loss and to regain essential habitat for wetland specialists such as waterfowl and marsh birds, numerous partners have joined to implement landscape-level wetland restoration projects such as the 558,879-acre Glacial Habitat Restoration Area (GHRA). From 1990 to 2013, open water, emergent marshes, and shrub wetlands increased by 17,774 acres in the GHRA. We sought to assess the presence of marsh birds in these restored wetlands and to evaluate associated wetland characteristics at various spatial scales. In spring of 2017, we used the Standardized North American Marsh Bird Monitoring Protocol to survey marsh birds on 38 randomly selected wetland properties within the GHRA. We categorized wetlands based on hydrologic modification and included two separate reference groups: Waterfowl Production Areas and sites not modified with basins. Marsh bird presence was recorded in the morning and evening during three sampling periods starting the first week of May and concluding in early June. We recorded twelve marsh bird species considered either primary or secondary target species and found the greatest species richness on sites restored using ditch modification in addition to scrapes. We modelled occupancy for sora, pied billed grebes, and Virginia rails and found that the top models for both sora and Virginia rails included percent agriculture, open water, and cattail in a 100 m radius surrounding the survey point and accounted for differences in detection probability by sampling period. The top model for pied billed grebes included open water and cattail percent cover within 100 m. Our preliminary results indicate that wetland characteristics associated with different methods of restoring hydrology could influence marsh bird presence and diversity. 

Tuesday January 30, 2018 9:20am - 9:40am CST