Establishing a Long Term Avian Survey to Monitor Restoration Success of a Wet Prairie
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology Undergraduate Research Theses; 2018
Ohio has lost over 90% of its original wetlands and 99% of its native tallgrass prairies, resulting in the decline of key ecosystem services such as water purification, flood prevention and critical wildlife habitat. Successful wetland and grassland restoration is crucial for the re-establishment of well-functioning habitats. Due to the diversity of species and niches, birds are highly useful and common indicators of the progress of ecosystem recovery after restoration. The objective of this study is to establish a long-term point count survey in a large restored wet prairie to monitor bird species abundance and diversity. Continued monitoring will document any changes in bird species presence and abundance relative to ongoing habitat succession and management. The survey location was in a 750 acre restored wet prairie at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, 18 km west of Columbus, Ohio. Franklin County Metro Parks expressed special interest in the status of Ohio species considered threatened or of concern, such as Henslow’s Sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii) and Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris). In order to monitor these bird species, I established a network of survey points, with 27 count stations spaced 250 meters apart. In May and early June of 2017, I completed three surveys using five-minute counts during which I detected species presence with auditory or visual cues within a 50 meter radius. Using the “unmarked” package in Program R, abundance estimates were calculated for two wetland species (Marsh Wren and Willow Flycatcher) and two grassland species (Henslow’s Sparrow and Grasshopper Sparrow), each being a specialist species in relation to habitat type. As the percent of woody vegetation increased, the estimated abundances of Henslow’s Sparrow and Grasshopper Sparrow decreased, while the estimated abundance of Willow Flycatcher increased. Based on these results demonstrating differing habitat preferences, I recommend a rotational management approach to ensure the presence of suitable habitat for multiple species in the wet prairie.
First place in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Undergraduate Research Forum
Academic Major: Evolution and Ecology