Wildlife Habitat Canada Provides Funding to Enhance Bird Studies Canada’s Great Lakes Marsh Monitoring Program
13 April 2014 – Port Rowan, ON – Wildlife Habitat Canada has recently funded a Bird Studies Canada-led project to enhance the Great Lakes Marsh Monitoring Program (GLMMP) and increase its capacity to meet Ontario Eastern Habitat Joint Venture (OEHJV) and North American Waterfowl Management Plan priorities.
Bird Studies Canada (BSC), a member of the OEHJV, has delivered the GLMMP since 1995. The program tracks populations of wetland-dependant bird and frog species as indicators of wetland health. The GLMMP has enormous potential to inform OEHJV conservation and management actions, from evaluating current efforts, to prioritizing sites for future securement. However, when the GLMMP was established, survey site selection was not entirely random, with many survey locations selected by volunteers. This non-random selection potentially limits inferences made using the GLMMP dataset and thus may limit the GLMMP’s ability to adequately assist in evaluating OEHJV conservation and management efforts.
Through this project BSC will work with OEHJV partners to design a new wetland sampling framework for the GLMMP within the Ontario portion of Bird Conservation Region (BCR) 13 that is randomized and stratified to better serve OEHJV conservation and management needs.
The new sampling scheme will increase the capacity of the GLMMP and subsequently the OEHJV to evaluate ongoing and future conservation and management actions for wetland-dependent bird species.
Nonetheless, GLMMP field surveys will continue at points in the existing sampling framework, as has occurred in the past, to maintain the power and flexibility of using assigned and volunteer-selected points for evaluating priorities at scales that may not be covered adequately by the new sampling framework. For instance, for evaluating the status of Great Lakes Areas of Concern or other certain targeted areas.
The new direction for the GLMMP will ultimately allow us to more effectively estimate and compare the distribution and population size of marsh-dependent species in OEHJV-managed versus unmanaged wetlands, as well as measure potential differences among other strata to be identified by partners over the course of the project. The field surveys at new sampling sites will be standardized to allow data to be combined with other marsh monitoring programs across Canada and North America.
In the end, the project will enhance the GLMMP to better serve conservation priorities on many levels within and beyond the OEHJV and is an exciting time for this already very successful program.
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