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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Linking shorebird and marsh bird habitat use to water management in anthropogenic and natural wetlands in the Colorado River delta
by Gomez-Sapiens, Martha Marina, Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2014, 153; 3623546
Abstract (Summary)

I estimated patterns of shorebird abundance and species diversity in the Colorado River Delta and Upper Gulf of California wetlands in order to determine the relative contribution of intertidal wetlands and non-tidal anthropogenic wetlands to support shorebird habitat use. Species richness varied from 15 to 26 species among sites and 29 species were detected across sites. Density during the peak migration month was higher at the anthropogenic wetland Cienega de Santa Clara (mean = 168 ind/ha, 95% C.I. 29-367), and the intertidal Golfo de Santa Clara (mean = 153 ind/ha, 95% C.I. 17-323). Anthropogenic wetlands (playa and lagoons) supported high abundance of shorebirds along with intertidal wetlands in the Colorado River Delta (mudflats). In contrast, intertidal wetlands farther south on the Sonoran Coast presented lower abundance but higher diversity of shorebird, likely as a result of the higher diversity of habitats (rocky shore, sandy beach, estuary). I modeled water management scenarios for the Cienega in order to determine the response of the dominant vegetation (southern cattail, Typha domingensis Pers.) and the area of the outflow pool below the marsh to different scenarios of water management. The model indicates that if the inflow rate is reduced below the current 4-5 m 3 s-1 the vegetated area of the Cienega that supports habitat for marsh birds would decrease in proportion, as would the area of the outflow pool in the Santa Clara Slough identified previously as shorebird habitat. Increases in salinity will also reduce the vegetated area due to the low salt tolerance of T. domingensis. In winter about 90% of inflow water exits the Cienega into the Santa Clara Slough due to low evapotranspiration contributing to inundate areas that are used by wintering and migrating shorebirds. Lastly, I explored the feasibility of using Vegetation Indices (NDVI and EVI) to model Yuma Clapper Rail detections in the Cienega de Santa Clara as well as the effects of adding other habitat variables and the presence of fire events in the performance of linear models based on NDVI. Both NDVI and EVI were positively related to the Yuma Clapper Rail detections. The relationship was weak to moderate, but significant (P < 0.001), which suggests other factors besides the vegetation condition play an important role in the bird distribution pattern. A model including all the variability among years was a better predictor of the rails detected per transect, than models for fire and non-fire years. We did not find a significant effect from adding habitat features (water % or vegetation %), and we recommend to include variables at both microhabitat level and landscape level, relevant before and during the breeding season in order to increase the explanatory power of models.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Glenn, Edward P.
Commitee: Fitzsimmons, Kevin, Flessa, Karl W.
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Soil, Water & Environmental Science
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-B 75/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Wildlife Conservation, Ecology, Environmental management
Keywords: Anthropogenic wetlands, Intertidal wetlands, Marsh bird, Shorebirds, Water budget, Water management
Publication Number: 3623546
ISBN: 978-1-303-96082-6
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