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Tuesday, February 7 • 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Poster Display. Using Canvasbacks (Aythya Valisineria) as a Bioindicator of Wetland Quality in the Upper Midwest

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AUTHORS: Eric Smith, Western Illinois University; Chris Jacques, Western Illinois University; Mike Anteau, USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center; Heath Hagy, Forbes Biological Station/Frank C. Bellrose Waterfowl Research Center

ABSTRACT: The canvasback (Aythya valisineria) is an omnivorous, wetland-obligate species that is dependent on food associated with submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), namely tubers, vegetation, moist-soil seeds, and aquatic invertebrates.  Since the 1950s, fluctuations in canvasback populations may be due, in part, to changes in wetland quality and abundance at migration stopover sites and wintering areas.  Wetland loss and degradation can lead to declining food resources, which in turn has direct implications for migratory waterfowl.  Thus, a need to provide high-quality habitat for wetland-obligate species is paramount for management and conservation efforts.  As such, a greater understanding of the fate of acquired nutrients (e.g., catabolized or accumulated) as lipid reserves may be useful in assessing habitat quality of key migration stopover areas for large-bodied diving ducks like canvasbacks, especially given spatial heterogeneity in habitat quality of stopover sites along traditional migration corridors.  Though plasma-lipid metabolite indices have been developed for assessing habitat quality of passerines and other small-bodied birds, a paucity of information exists for assessing wetland quality for large-bodied waterfowl like canvasbacks.  Development of a relatively unbiased plasma metabolite index for canvasbacks may provide waterfowl managers with a useful tool for assessing the relative magnitude of change in wetland quality.  Thus, our overall goal is to develop a plasma-lipid index for canvasbacks for landscape-level use in evaluating wetland quality at traditional stopover sites in the Upper Midwest.  Results of our study may assist agencies with the geographic prioritization of waterfowl conservation efforts.  Further, our landscape-level assessment of wetland quality may be an indicator of how sensitive spring migration habitat presently is for canvasbacks, which in turn may help to identify specific life stages whereby management may or may not help with future conservation of this species.

Tuesday February 7, 2017 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Lancaster Ballroom

Attendees (1)