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CONFERENCE SCHEDULE UPDATES & CHANGES: As a result of the prolonged government shutdown, we experienced a number of cancellations and changes to the schedule. Cancellations and changes are listed here (as of January 26, 2019). 
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Monday, January 28 • 10:20am - 10:40am
(WILDLIFE: WETLAND CONSERVATION) Multi-scale Habitat Associations with Marshbird Occupancy and Abundance in the Great Lakes Region

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AUTHORS: Sarah Saunders, National Audubon Society; Kristin Hall, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Nina Hill, University of Minnesota; Nicole Michel, National Audubon Society

ABSTRACT: Intensifying wetland stressors in the Great Lakes region of the United States have hastened the need to identify local and landscape-scale habitat characteristics important to marsh-dependent wildlife to inform conservation prioritizations. The optimal spatial scale for assessing species-habitat relationships is not always apparent, but may affect inference about wetland use and suitability. We developed occupancy and abundance models, while accounting for imperfect detection, for nine marshbird species breeding in Minnesota. We evaluated species-specific wetland cover associations at three spatial scales (12.6 ha, 50.3 ha, and 4000 ha), quantified sensitivity to anthropogenic disturbance (developed land and agriculture), and evaluated ecoregional variation in marshbird occupancy and abundance. Emergent vegetation was positively correlated with occupancy rates of 89% of species, emphasizing the conservation value of this land cover type for sustaining breeding marshbird populations in the state. Agriculture was negatively associated with occupancy for three species, and positively associated for three other species, especially at the landscape scale. Development was negatively related to occupancy for five species, but positively related for Marsh Wren. Occupancy of all species was highest in the Prairie Pothole ecoregion, and Pied-billed Grebe and Sora were most abundant at wetlands in this region. Restoration efforts targeted within the western portion of the state are most likely to boost marshbird populations and use conservation resources effectively. Future applications of our modeling framework at broader spatial extents will contribute to the conservation of marshbirds in a region where rates of wetland loss and degradation are high.

Monday January 28, 2019 10:20am - 10:40am EST