, Volume 567, Issue 1, pp 143-167

First online:

Macroinvertebrate abundance, water chemistry, and wetland characteristics affect use of wetlands by avian species in Maine

  • Jerry R. LongcoreAffiliated withU.S. Geological Survey, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Email author 
  • , Daniel G. McAuleyAffiliated withU.S. Geological Survey, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
  • , Grey W. PendeltonAffiliated withU.S. Geological Survey, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
  • , Carolyn Reid BennattiAffiliated withDepartment of Wildlife Ecology, University of Maine
  • , Terry M. MingoAffiliated withDepartment of Entomology, University of Maine
  • , Kenneth L. StromborgAffiliated withU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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Our objective was to determine use by avian species (e.g., piscivores, marsh birds, waterfowl, selected passerines) of 29 wetlands in areas with low (<200 μeq l−1) acid-neutralizing capacity (ANC) in southeastern Maine. We documented bird, pair, and brood use during 1982–1984 and in 1982 we sampled 10 wetlands with a sweep net to collect invertebrates. We related mean numbers of invertebrates per wetland to water chemistry, basin characteristics, and avian use of different wetland types. Shallow, beaver (Castor canadensis)-created wetlands with the highest phosphorus levels and abundant and varied macrophyte assemblages supported greater densities of macroinvertebrates and numbers of duck broods (88.3% of all broods) in contrast to deep, glacial type wetlands with sparse vegetation and lower invertebrate densities that supported fewer broods (11.7%). Low pH may have affected some acid-intolerant invertebrate taxa (i.e., Ephemeroptera), but high mean numbers of Insecta per wetland were recorded from wetlands with a pH of 5.51. Other Classes and Orders of invertebrates were more abundant on wetlands with pH > 5.51. All years combined use of wetlands by broods was greater on wetlands with pH ≤ 5.51 (77.4%) in contract to wetlands with pH > 5.51 that supported 21.8% of the broods. High mean brood density was associated with mean number of Insecta per wetland. For lentic wetlands created by beaver, those habitats contained vegetative structure and nutrients necessary to provide cover to support invertebrate populations that are prey of omnivore and insectivore species. The fishless status of a few wetlands may have affected use by some waterfowl species and obligate piscivores.


acidity avian species beaver Castor canadensis macroinvertebrates water chemistry waterfowl broods wetland characteristics wetland use