Wintering population estimates and microplastics prevalence for tidal marsh birds of Mississippi
Item TypeGraduate Thesis
AdvisorWoodrey, Mark S
Rush, Scott A
Due to the global loss of tidal marsh area, potential anthropogenic and natural disturbances to these systems, and coastal marshes’ affinity for trapping environmental pollutants, understanding how marsh birds inhabiting these ecosystems will adapt to these changes is paramount. To quantify future changes, I first needed to have something to compare against – baseline estimates. To this end, I performed distance sampling line transect surveys during the nonbreeding season to estimate species-specific population abundance, density, and habitat associations and captured two species of marsh bird, Clapper Rail (Rallus crepitans) and Seaside Sparrow (Ammospiza maritima), to estimate baseline ingestion of one such environmental pollutant – microplastics. By providing the first baseline population and density estimates for numerous nonbreeding marsh birds, my findings suggest that the tidal marshes of Mississippi provide critical habitat for many of these species. Additionally, I was able to document the first evidence of microplastic ingestion by resident tidal marsh birds.