Research and Monitoring
Marsh Bird Survey
Many avian species are dependent upon emergent wetland habitat and face threats from:
•loss of habitat
•accumulation of environmental contaminants
•alteration of habitat by non-native, invasive species
Populations of many marsh birds seem to be declining and several species are listed as threatened or endangered within the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. Since little is known regarding many of these species, a standardized survey protocol was developed in 2004 by the Arizona Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit to allow agencies and groups throughout North America to estimate and monitor population trends. This protocol involves broadcasting bird calls across marshes and listening for responses. The surveys are taken in early morning and late afternoon when birds are most active and can be taylored to broadcast only for specific species of birds found in the region.
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Exotic Aquatic Species Monitoring and Removal
Most exotic (non-native) species introductions are the result of human activity. People have intentionally introduced exotic species for specific reasons such as using water hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes, as an ornamental pond plant; however exotics are also introduced accidentally via actions such as exchanging ballast water. Regardless of the mechanism of introduction, once in our waterways exotic plants can proliferate and pose a serious threat to native habitats.
Over time exotic plants may:
•Crowd out sunlight and nutrients from other plants
•Crowd out other plants, jeopardizing animals dependent on native vegetation
•Overgrow, leading to excessive plant growth, which in turn leads to decay and excess oxygen depletion, which results in fish losses.
•Crowd out navigation channels
Some of the “big picture” losses for humans from exotic species include:
•High transportation and navigation costs
•Reduced food availability for subsistence fishing
•Reduced commercial fishing
•Reduced sport fishing
During the summer of 2006 Stewardship Coordinator Eric Brunden, with the assistance of volunteers Carol Furman and Bruce Zimmerman, traveled the waterways of the Weeks Bay watershed locating and estimating area coverage of aquatic exotic invasive plant species. This data was turned over to Sarah Johnston, Weeks Bay Reserve GIS (Geographical Information System) specialist, who overlaid the information onto digitized watershed maps to create an easily interpreted visualization of the variety and extent of invasive coverage.
This information, when combined with periodic future assessments, will assist managers and stewards to identify new threats and prioritize control efforts. Currently the staff of Weeks Bay Reserve are working together to control the spread of Hydrilla verticillata which can be found in abundance within the Barner Branch tributary of Fish river (see map).
For more information:
♦Exotic Aquatic Species in Weeks Bay
The Mississippi-Alabama Habitats Tool provides information on conservation and restoration projects planned, in process, or completed as well as a mapper to geospatially show where these activities are occurring throughout the two-state coastal area. For Mobile and Baldwin Counties in Alabama, this mapper pulls in a variety of data sets including priority habitat patches, land cover and other ecological attributes to aid in future conservation planning. Check out the tool today and be a part of habitat conservation and protection for the northern Gulf Coast!