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The following schedule is subject to change (as of October 11, 2016). Please check back for updates. For more information about this meeting, go to: www.seafwa.org/conferences/2016
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Wednesday, October 19 • 8:00am - 8:20am
Wildlife. Beach-nesting Bird Response to Vegetation Dynamics in Coastal Louisiana

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AUTHORS: Erik I. Johnson, Audubon Louisiana|National Audubon Society; Delaina LeBlanc, Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program; Richard DeMay, Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program; Natalie Waters, Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program; Katie L. Percy, Audubon Louisiana|National Audubon Society; Jed Pitre, Audubon Louisiana|National Audubon Society, American Bird Conservancy; Kacy Ray, American Bird Conservancy

ABSTRACT: Coastal habitats are dynamic systems in which storms and hurricanes serve as important disturbance events, scouring beachfronts and shifting sediment to reduce vegetation cover. As beaches and dunes recover through wind- and water-driven transport of sediments, vegetation recolonizes. Coastal Louisiana is facing a land loss crisis, and beach renourishment projects and vegetation plantings can roughly emulate these dynamics, but important aspects of the ecosystem, such as predator-prey dynamics and elevation changes differ from natural disturbance regimes. Understanding how natural and human-generated beachfront dynamics affect beach-nesting bird populations is important for understanding how species of conservation concern, like Wilson’s Plovers (Charadrius wilsonia) and Least Terns (Sternula antillarum), will respond to landscapes facing large-scale restoration. We examined relationships between beach-nesting bird densities, coastal vegetation growth, and beachfront geomorphology at five sites that have undergone restoration and compared them against six control sites without recent restoration. We classified NAIP high-resolution imagery from 2013 and 2015 to quantify the area and relative cover of vegetation, open sand, and mudflats and compared against nesting bird counts from May and June of those years. Most sites increased in vegetation cover between these two years, including restoration sites, which resulted in lower densities of Least Terns and increased densities of Wilson’s Plovers. We discuss these results in the context of coastal restoration activities and to predict long-term trade-offs in adding vegetative cover versus providing early successional open habitat for nesting birds.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 8:00am - 8:20am
Louisiana Room

Attendees (7)