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Tuesday, February 7 • 8:20am - 8:40am
Symposia Session - S6: Impact of Prescribed and Wild Fires on the Great Plains. Secretive Marshbird Response to Wetland Plant Management in Prairie Pothole Minnesota

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AUTHORS: Nina Hill, University of Minnesota, Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Tom Cooper, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Douglas H. Johnson, U.S. Geological Survey (emeritus); David E. Andersen, U.S. Geological Survey, Minnesota Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit

ABSTRACT: Many marshbird species are difficult to detect and existing avian survey methods (e.g., Breeding Bird Surveys) do not provide reliable estimates of population size or trends.  It is unclear how these species have responded to historic widespread land-use conversion throughout the Prairie Pothole Region, nor to further recent alteration of remaining wetland habitat by invasive plants.  To better understand these relationships, we used the Standardized North American Marsh Bird Monitoring Protocol to evaluate differences in marshbird abundance and occupancy of wetlands associated with different vegetation management strategies in west-central and northwestern Minnesota.  In our west-central Minnesota study area we established 18 survey routes to examine differences in marshbird abundance among 4 levels of management histories of prescribed burning and conservation grazing during the period 2000-2015.  In our northwestern Minnesota study area we surveyed 8 large wetlands to assess marshbird use before and after herbicide application to control hybrid cattails (Typha x glauca).  During the 2015 and 2016 spring breeding seasons we conducted a total of 465 surveys resulting in 1299 observations of 10 focal species of marshbirds in west-central Minnesota, and a total of 238 surveys resulting in1141 observations of 14 focal species in northwestern Minnesota.  Preliminary results suggest that some species of marshbirds were associated with the high intensity of vegetation management in our west-central Minnesota study area, indicating that a combination of fire and grazing influenced marshbird habitat quality.  Our results also provide reference information on distribution and relative abundance of marshbirds in western Minnesota landscapes that can be used to inform land management.

Tuesday February 7, 2017 8:20am - 8:40am CST
Arbor I/II