Hydrobiologia

, Volume 567, Issue 1, pp 169–181 | Cite as

Breeding waterbird wetland habitat availability and response to water-level management in Saint John River floodplain wetlands, New Brunswick

Article

Abstract

Wetland management by the Eastern Habitat Joint Venture (EHJV) has focused primarily on water level control to increase the amount of available brood-rearing habitat for waterfowl along the Saint John River floodplain in New Brunswick. Impounded wetlands make up approximately 13% of the Saint John River Floodplain complex. Study objectives included an evaluation of waterfowl brood, and wetland obligate bird use of impoundments and seasonally flooded wetlands within the Saint John River floodplain. Historical water level data and a GIS wetlands inventory were used to estimate the duration of flooding on seasonally flooded wetland habitats, and the distribution and relative amount of brood-rearing habitat throughout the breeding period by region. Aerial brood surveys and call response surveys were used to estimate the relative abundance of waterfowl broods and breeding wetland obligate birds respectively. The overall density of waterfowl broods was greater on impoundments than on seasonally flooded wetlands during both years of study but varied by site. Mean species richness of wetland obligate birds was significantly greater on impoundments than on seasonally flooded wetland habitat. Generally, use of seasonally flooded wetlands by wetland obligate birds during late summer declined while the use of impoundments increased. Current habitat management for waterfowl appears to be compatible with habitat requirements of wetland obligate birds by increasing the availability of interspersed open water and emergent vegetation throughout the breeding season. A watershed-based analysis of wetland habitat suggests future wetland management should focus on enhancing current impoundments within the Saint John River floodplain. Resources must be secured for maintenance and water level manipulation within existing managed wetlands rather than the construction of additional impoundments. Further evaluation of the distribution of wetland habitat types in the province is essential to identifying focus areas for waterbird conservation throughout NB.

Keywords

waterfowl waterbird brood-rearing habitat wetland floodplain 

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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Natural ResourcesFish and Wildlife BranchFrederictonCanada
  2. 2.Ducks Unlimited CanadaInstitute for Wetland and Waterfowl ResearchStonewallCanada

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