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Tuesday, January 30 • 10:40am - 11:00am
SYMPOSIA-08: Wetland Quality for Waterbirds in Illinois

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AUTHORS. Abigail Blake-Bradshaw, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Heath M. Hagy, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Jeffrey W. Matthews, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; John R. O'Connell, Southern Illinois University; Mike Eichholz, Southern Illinois University.

ABSTRACT. Waterbirds use a variety of wetland types during critical periods of their life cycle, such as spring migration.  However, wetland area in the Midwest has decreased substantially in the last century, and remnant wetlands are often degraded and may not meet habitat needs for waterbirds.  The National Wetland Inventory (NWI) is currently the most comprehensive measure of wetland quantity in this region, but NWI lacks data regarding the timing, depth, and persistence of surface water inundation.  Therefore, wetland estimates based on NWI may overestimate wetland availability and quality for waterbirds because many wetlands are not inundated and accessible during the appropriate periods.  We repeatedly sampled 120 wetland plots (25-ha) during three sample periods critical to focal waterbirds (i.e.,spring [migrating dabbling ducks], early summer [nesting marsh birds], and autumn [migrating shorebirds]) across Illinois during 2015–2017.  We stratified our study area by natural division and spatially-balanced sampling within wetlands outlined by NWI.  Within plots, we visually estimated inundation and vegetation cover and surveyed hydrologic stressors, waterbird occupancy, and management intensity; we used a modified version of the Ohio Rapid Assessment Method (ORAM) to assess anthropogenic disturbance. During spring 2016, 11% of emergent wetlands were completely dry and 57% lacked flooded non-persistent emergent vegetation (Sagittaria spp.) important to dabbling ducks.  Similarly, in summer only 20% of wetland polygons had flooded persistent emergent vegetation (Typha spp.) for marsh bird nesting habitat. In fall, >50% of wetland polygons had mudflats for southerly migrating shorebirds; however, average cover was relatively low (2

Tuesday January 30, 2018 10:40am - 11:00am
102B