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Tuesday, February 7 • 11:40am - 12:00pm
Symposia Session - S5: Playa Wetland Ecology. Challenges for Shorebird Habitat Management in an Increasingly Dynamic Climate

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AUTHORS: Caitlyn Gillespie, Klamath Bird Observatory; Joseph J. Fontaine, U.S. Geological Survey, Nebraska Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit

ABSTRACT: Finding and taking advantage of stopover habitat is essential for the success of long-distance migration; yet birds must frequently make habitat decisions in unfamiliar environments. For species such as shorebirds that depend on ephemeral wetland systems in mid-continental North America, stopover habitat is naturally unpredictable and has become increasingly altered by land-use change.  The increasingly sparse distribution of wetland habitat creates challenges for management, because while managers may manipulate water levels in preparation for early spring migrants such as waterfowl, the phenology of shallow-water and mudflat habitat for shorebirds changes rapidly in response to local weather events.  While drought and land-use change may limit wetland availability during spring migration, unpredictable severe thunderstorms also have the potential to enhance or create shorebird stopover habitat, as shorebirds will use shallow agrarian wetlands in highly agricultural landscapes.  In the Rainwater Basin, we monitored habitat use of Calidris shorebirds at managed wetlands during spring migration in 2013 and 2014 and also monitored how the size and structure of wetlands and the surrounding landscape responded to local weather events.  We discuss the implications of drought and unpredictable rainfall events on the persistence of shorebird habitat in highly altered landscapes and managed wetland complexes, and suggest future avenues for research and discussion of how severe weather events in combination with forecasted climate and land-use change may impact species that rely on highly unpredictable habitat.

Tuesday February 7, 2017 11:40am - 12:00pm
Yankee Hill I/II

Attendees (8)