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Project ID: 2005MA45B

Title: Cryptic Marsh Birds as Bioindicators of Wetland Health

Project Type: Research

Focus Categories: Conservation, Ecology, Wetlands

Keywords: wetlands, exotic invasive species, cryptic marsh birds, bioindicators, broadcast surveys

Start Date: 03/01/2005

End Date: 02/28/2006

Federal Funds: $5,000

Non-Federal Matching Funds: $11,786

Congressional District: 7th MA

Principal Investigators:
Brian G. Tavernia

J. Michael Reed


Freshwater wetlands in Massachusetts are threatened by exotic invasive plant species such as purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) and phragmites (Phragmites australis). Invasion by these exotic wetland plants effectively reduces habitat for native wildlife, and is of particular concern to state-listed species. The impacts of wetland loss have been especially studied in birds , partly because of their potential as bioindicators.

This project’s goals are to determine (1) the status in Massachusetts of cryptic marsh birds that currently are state-listed (as endangered, threatened, or of concern), or are proposed for listing; and (2) their relationships to the presence and abundance of exotic wetland plants.

The PI and several assistants will survey up to 177 wetlands throughout Massachusetts for cryptic marsh birds. Birds will be surveyed using broadcast calls to elicit vocalizations from local birds. In conjunction with these surveys, we will create maps showing the locations of birds relative to major vegetation types. In addition, field maps of wetland edges and boundaries of major vegetation types will be made from color-enhanced aerial photographs, and data will be recorded in GIS.

The results of this study will indicate whether cryptic marsh birds are sensitive to the presence and abundance of exotic wetland plants, and if there is a difference in effect among the plant species.

Progress/Completion Report PDF

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Maintained by: John Schefter
Last Updated: Wednesday June 22, 2005 3:30 PM
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