Waterbird and Seed Abundances in Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative and Non-Managed Wetlands in Mississippi and Louisiana
Weegman, Matthew Moraco
AdvisorKaminski, Richard M.
CommitteeDavis, J. Brian
Nelms, Kevin D.
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) implemented the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative (MBHI) in summer 2010 to provide wetlands for waterbirds inland from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. To evaluate MBHI and associated wetland management practices, I estimated seed and waterbird densities in MBHI and non-managed wetlands in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV) of Mississippi and Louisiana. Although not statistically different, wetlands enrolled in MBHI contained 1.26 and 1.53 times more seed biomass and seeds consumed by waterfowl than non-managed wetlands, respectively. I also detected 3 times more dabbling ducks and all ducks combined on MBHI wetlands. When I combined density data for all waterbird species, MBHI wetlands contained more than 2 times as many birds than control wetlands. Management via MBHI increased waterbird and potential food abundances, suggesting NRCS consider sustaining MBHI and provide financial incentives to landowners for management of wetlands in the MAV and United States.