Use of Newly Constructed Wetlands by Wintering Waterfowl and Waterbirds
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Texas coastal wetlands have been declining since the 1950s. Waterfowl and waterbirds, in particular, have been greatly affected by the loss of wetlands because these areas provide wintering habitat. In an effort to combat the loss of wetlands, landowners, non-governmental agencies, and governmental agencies have combined resources to create and restore wetlands. One such effort was a newly constructed wetland near La Ward, Jackson County, in the Gulf Coast region of Texas. In this study of the constructed wetlands, I determined occupancy of and behaviors exhibited by waterfowl and waterbirds using the wetlands at seven quadrats. I conducted 10-minute visual scans every 30 minutes to determine presence or absence and behavior of waterfowl and waterbirds in quadrats. Sixteen waterfowl species as well as American coot and grebe species used the wetlands with varying frequency. Quadrat 6A had the greatest occupancy with 10,294 birds of 19 species. Only two birds used Quadrat 6C.
Waterfowl and waterbirds primarily rested on quadrats (50% of observations). Foraging was a secondary behavior (29% of observations). Geese in particular tended to rest in quadrats. Further investigation may determine which characteristics of these quadrats make them particularly suited for resting and foraging, and should provide additional information for habitat managers to create or enhance their areas for winter waterfowl resting and foraging.
Abiotic data were also collected during the study to determine if factors such as wind direction and time of day had any effect on occupancy by waterfowl. All abiotic factors affected species presence with site location, wind direction, and air temperature being the most significant (p < 0.0001). Other abiotic factors had a highly significant effect on occupancy. Time of day and wind speed, time of day and humidity, wind speed and humidity, time of day and air temperature, and wind speed and air temperature all combined to significantly impact pond occupancy by waterfowl (p < 0.0001).
Overall, these newly constructed wetlands were immediately occupied by waterfowl and waterbirds and used for resting and foraging during winter along the Gulf Coast of Texas.
CitationBender, S. L. (2002). Use of newly constructed wetlands by wintering waterfowl and waterbirds (Unpublished thesis). Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.
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