, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 695-701

Issues and approaches in assessing cumulative impacts on waterbird habitat in wetlands

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Abstract

Wetlands are attractive to vertebrates because of their abundant nutrient resources and habitat diversity. Because they are conspicuous, vertebrates commonly are used as indicators of changes in wetlands produced by environmental impacts. Such impacts take place at the landscape level where extensive areas are lost; at the wetland complex level where some (usually small) units of a closely spaced group of wetlands are drained or modified; or at the level of the individual wetland through modification or fragmentation that impacts its habitat value. Vertebrates utilize habitats differently according to age, sex, geographic location, and season, and habitat evaluations based on isolated observations can be biased. Current wetland evaluation systems incorporate wildlife habitat as a major feature, and the habitat evaluation procedure focuses only on habitat. Several approaches for estimating bird habitat losses are derived from population curves based on natural and experimentally induced population fluctuations. Additional research needs and experimental approaches are identified for addressing cumulative impacts on wildlife habitat values.