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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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S08: Science in service to wetlands conservation and wildlife management in the lower Great Lakes region: history - status - state of the art [clear filter]
Tuesday, January 29
 

10:20am

(SYMPOSIA-08) Wetland Habitat and Bird Population Changes over Time: the Dynamics of Coastal Wetlands
AUTHORS: John Simpson, Winous Point Marsh Conservancy

ABSTRACT: The lower Great Lakes region has experienced one of the greatest rates of wetland loss in North America. The remaining coastal wetlands, though naturally resilient and dynamic, are subjected to a wide variety of anthropogenic stressors, and losses in both quantity and quality continue. Using western Lake Erie as an example, we can trace changes in wetland habitat and losses since European settlement through a variety of historical records, including changes in wetland-bird, plant abundances and assemblages, and waterfowl populations. While the Great Lakes wetlands remain still under threat, many groups are attempting to restore and protect wetlands throughout the basin and great interest is currently being placed on the role wetlands could possibly have in reducing and mitigating harmful algal blooms that are occurring throughout the lower Great Lakes system.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 10:20am - 10:40am
HOPE BALLROOM B

10:40am

(SYMPOSIA-08) Evolution of Wetland Conservation and Policy: Developing Programs and Partnerships
AUTHORS: Steven A. Gray, Retired Ohio Division of Wildlife; Gildo M. Tori, Ducks Unlimited; David Brakhage, Ducks Unlimited;

ABSTRACT: Wetland conservation in the Lower Great Lakes region occurred shortly after European settlement.  The rich marshes provide excellent waterfowl hunting, spurring the growth of private duck hunting clubs, maintained and managed the land for hunting, fishing and trapping. These early sportsmen spawned the development of early conservation groups like Ducks Unlimited and state Fish and Wildlife Agencies in the early 1900s.  With the initiation of funding mechanisms like duck stamps, hunting licenses and excise taxes on sporting equipment, lands were purchased as state and national wildlife areas and opened to the general public for outdoor recreation.  As populations expanded, conservation became more sophisticated with the development of flyway councils to regulate harvest of migratory birds, but conservation of habitats did not keep pace.  As a result the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and habitat joint ventures was born aimed at dramatically increasing wetlands and associated habitats throughout North America.  Subsequent policy efforts created the North American Wetlands Conservation Act in 1989, which encouraged partnerships and provided federal grants to advance conservation.  The lower Great Lakes region was a focal area and received many grants to facilitate wetland restoration, on both public and private lands.  The 1985 and 1991 Farm Bills created programs such as the Conservation and Wetland Reserve Programs that conserved soil, water and wildlife.However, wetland loss and need continued to grow. In May 2004 President George Bush issued an Executive Order, which recognized the Great Lakes as a "national treasure” and in 2010, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was launched out of the collaboration, and President Barack Obama and Congress provided federal funding to support habitat conservation efforts.This presentation will focus on the historical development, challenges and opportunities, and advancement of wetland conservation in the lower Great Lakes region.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 10:40am - 11:00am
HOPE BALLROOM B

11:00am

(SYMPOSIA-08) Synthesizing the Science to Support Management of Invasive Plants
AUTHORS: Kurt P. Kowalski, U.S. Geological Survey

ABSTRACT: The invasion of non-native wetland plants is one of the many stressors degrading Lake Erie and surrounding watersheds. Once established, invasive plants often outcompete native plants, impair fish and wildlife habitat, degrade recreational opportunities, increase fire hazard, and reduce property values. Resource managers and regional funding agencies (e.g., the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative) invest a significant amount of resources to address this high priority issue. However, the conventional approaches to invasive plant management (e.g., herbicide, cutting, burning, flooding) often only provide temporary control, are difficult to maintain at the landscape scale, and are not species specific. Efforts to collaborate on a local scale (e.g., Cooperative Weed Management Areas) and at the basin-wide scale (e.g., Great Lakes Phragmites Collaborative, Phragmites Adaptive Management Framework) are maximizing the impact of investments, but additional management options are desired by resource managers. Phragmites australis, Typha spp., Butomus umbellatus, Phalaris arundinacea, Hydrocharis morsus-ranae, Hydrilla verticillata, and Myriophyllum spicatum are just a few of the many non-native plant species found in Lake Erie coastal habitats. Although all of these species are being managed at some level, a few widespread species (e.g., Phragmites) are very visible, of great concern to private and public landowners, and targeted for intensive research efforts into new management approaches that can be adapted to the other species. For example, recent advances have revealed the extensive suite of microbes (e.g., bacteria, fungi) that live symbiotically in and around non-native Phragmites. The relationship between microbes and the plant can enhance the plant’s ability to outcompete native plants and is a target for new control approaches (e.g., disrupting important mutualisms). Ongoing research focused on Phragmites is laying the groundwork for application to other undesirable non-native plants and enhancing the growth of desirable native or crop species.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 11:00am - 11:20am
HOPE BALLROOM B

11:20am

(SYMPOSIA-08) Great Black Swamp Region of Northwestern Ohio
AUTHORS: Matthew Kovach, Tara Baranowski – The Nature Conservancy

ABSTRACT: Ohio has lost over 90% of its wetlands with the majority of that loss occurring in the Great Black Swamp region of northwestern Ohio. The Nature Conservancy and many other partners are working to restore this important habitat. The restoration of wetland plant communities differs based upon the site specific conditions present: Hydrological reconnection types and regimes, Lake Erie water level fluctuations, native sediment loss and alteration, watershed dynamics and historical landscape alterations, climate change implications, coastal erosional processes, and wetland mitigation. This work also varies based upon the ultimate goals of the restoration. This presentation will discuss how all of those factors play into The Nature Conservancy’s work to restore and create native wetland plant communities and the benefits and tradeoffs associated with that work.   

Tuesday January 29, 2019 11:20am - 11:40am
HOPE BALLROOM B

11:40am

(CANCELLED) (SYMPOSIA-08) A Decade of Privately Owned Wetland Restorations in the Lake Erie Marsh Focus Area
AUTHORS: Jeff Finn, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Mark Witt, Ohio Division of Wildlife, Joe Uhinck, Ottawa County Soil and Water Conservation District

ABSTRACT: The wetland habitat of the Western Basin of Lake Erie has endured significant loss since the settlement of Europeans in the area. Some estimates put the loss at over 90%. The area is listed as a crucial element in the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan and significant in the Upper Mississippi River and Great Lakes Joint Venture plans of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. The importance of coastal and interior wetlands has become increasingly apparent due to recent water quality issues within the Western Basin of Lake Erie. There are a variety of agencies and organizations that have been working together to restore wetlands within the Lake Erie Marsh Focus Area. Ohio Division of Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, and Ottawa County Soil and Water Conservation District have worked together to create a cumulative effect that is transforming much of this area from farmed or degraded land, to productive wetland habitat. Accomplishments are often measured on an annual basis, taking a snapshot of what has occurred within a given year. The cumulative effect of restoration efforts is not readily apparent unless one takes the time to capture and quantify what each organization or agency has accomplished over a longer period of time. The most important factor may not be the influx of government agencies but the willingness of landowners to restore wetland habitat on privately owned land. What motivates each of these landowners can be vastly different. Monetary incentives, recreational opportunities like hunting and trapping, or simply having a conservation ethic to restore habitat are all drivers that motivate landowners to restore habitat.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 11:40am - 12:00pm
HOPE BALLROOM B

1:20pm

(SYMPOSIA-08) Waterfowl Ecology and Management in the Lower Great Lakes
AUTHORS: Matthew Palumbo, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Jacob Straub, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, David Luukkonen, Michigan State University; John Coluccy, Ducks Unlimited

ABSTRACT: Abstract: Applied scientific research has been an underpinning of sound waterfowl and wetland conservation for decades. The Lower Great Lakes (LGL), especially wetland and adjacent upland habitats near Lakes Erie, St. Clair, and Ontario, were historically and remain a critical region for waterfowl of the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways. In fact, hundreds of thousands of waterfowl use this landscape as their primary breeding location and millions use the resources of the region during migration between breeding and wintering areas. Waterfowl managers and researchers in the LGL have strong partnerships and have largely focused efforts in this region on studies that improve understanding of the overall ecology of the species and how management actions can influence these birds. Specifically, the LGL have been the home to seminal studies on waterfowl bioenergetic modeling during spring migration, habitat use and movement for key focal species (e.g., mallards), monitoring and evaluation of diving sea duck distributions on the Great Lakes, studying the potential limiting factors for Great Lakes mallard populations, and influence of weather, wetland availability, and mallard abundance on productivity of Great Lakes mallards. Importantly, these studies have critical linkages to management which have serviced wetlands conservation. Our objective is to synthesize recent research that has improved our understanding of waterfowl ecology and habitat management in the region. Additionally, we will identify future research needs and information gaps to expand waterfowl conservation in the LGL.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 1:20pm - 1:40pm
HOPE BALLROOM B

1:40pm

(SYMPOSIA-08) Recent Advancements in Our Understanding of Secretive Marshbirds in the Lower Great Lakes
AUTHORS: Brendan Shirkey, WInous Point Marsh Conservancy, Doug Tozier, Bird Studies Canada, Mike Monfils, Michigan Natural Features Inventory

ABSTRACT: Historically, wetland research and management in the lower Great Lakes region has focused on waterfowl given the vested human interest and continental significance of the area as migratory stopover habitat. Recently, additional research focused on secretive marshbirds (e.g., king rails, yellow rails, Virginia rails, sora, least bitterns and American bitters) has gained momentum. Unlike waterfowl populations that are at historically high levels, many secretive marshbird species have experienced significant population decline in the past several decades. However, due to the extremely limited amount of research and secretive nature of many of these bird species, population trend data is lacking and any understanding of habitat associations that might be causing population declines is nonexistent. Many state and federal agencies as well as NGO’s have begun to work collaboratively throughout the Great Lakes region to monitor secretive marshbird populations to fill some of these knowledge gaps. The objectives of this presentation are to: 1) summarize historical marshbird research in the region, 2) highlight recent research that has improved our understanding of secretive marshbirds in the region, and 3) identify future research and information needed to improve our conservation of secretive marshbirds in the lower Great Lakes region. We hope that a continued to effort to understand the life history and habitat associations of secretive marshbirds will ultimately lead to improved habitat management with the potential to benefit waterfowl and simultaneously other wetland-dependent birds and wildlife, including secretive marshbirds.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 1:40pm - 2:00pm
HOPE BALLROOM B

2:00pm

(SYMPOSIA-08) Ecology and Management of Fall and Spring Migrating Shorebirds in the Western Basin of Lake Erie
AUTHORS: Robert J. Gates, Ohio State University School of Environment and Natural Resources; Mark Shieldcastle, Black Swamp Bird Observatory; David Ewert, American Bird Conservancy; Keith Norris, The Wildlife Society; Tara Baranowski, The Nature Conservancy in Ohio

ABSTRACT: The Lake Erie Marsh region, long recognized as a continentally significant migratory crossroad for waterfowl and other migratory birds with a rich tradition of waterfowl hunting was recognized as a regionally significant migration staging area by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN).  Nomination as a WHSRN site was based on counts of 38 shorebird species with minimum known numbers >100,000 birds, compiled from standardized surveys by Black Swamp Bird Observatory during 1993-1999.  Repeated surveys of random plots during springs and autumns 2002-2003 revealed shorebird populations that exceeded 100,000 birds on and near just two major marsh complexes (Winous Point Marsh Conservancy and Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge - Magee Marsh Wildlife Area) in the Lake Erie marsh region.   Shorebird habitats in the region principally comprise managed impoundments where water levels are manipulated to produce food and cover for waterfowl and create hunting opportunity.  Managed marshes were the mainstay for shorebirds during autumn and spring migration in 2002-2003, although estuaries attracted large numbers during seiche events.  Surrounding crop fields were used sporadically after precipitation events in spring but were generally too vegetated to attract shorebirds in autumn.  Four shorebird species gained 0.28–1.49 g body mass/day with invertebrate biomass densities that ranged from 3.7–12.1 kg/ha during fall migration 2006-2013.  Estimated stopover durations were 12-16 days.  The Lake Erie marsh region likely merits WHSRN status as an internationally important shorebird area.  Results from our studies are used to inform habitat conservation planning and management by state and federal agencies and NGOs in the region.  We discuss gaps in our knowledge of migrating shorebirds in the region, including spring vs. fall habitat limitation and energetic carrying capacities of cover types used by migrating shorebirds.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 2:00pm - 2:20pm
HOPE BALLROOM B

2:20pm

(CANCELLED) (SYMPOSIA-08) Great Lakes Shorelines: Influence on Landbird Distribution
AUTHORS: David Ewert, American Bird Conservancy; Christopher Tonra, The Ohio State University; Tom Will, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

ABSTRACT:  The importance of shoreline habitats to landbirds varies with latitude, shoreline substrate, and by season.  Metamorphic bluffs with high gradient bathymetry adjacent to boreal forest along Lake Superior provide strikingly different habitat than low gradient, silty shorelines bordered by deciduous forest and forested wetlands on or near Lake Erie shorelines.  In turn, these ecologically diverse landscapes result in different land-water interactions that influence how landbirds use shoreline habitat. During stationary periods of the annual cycle, breeding and wintering seasons, species characteristic of wetlands or beach and dune habitats may be relatively common near Great Lakes shorelines.   This includes breeding Bank Swallows and Prairie Warblers and wintering Snowy Owls.  Indirect effects of a relatively cool and moist nearshore microclimate also influence distribution and relative abundance of species such as the Northern Parula and Canada Warbler.Perhaps the best known use of shoreline habitat by landbirds is that of fall-out areas, especially for passerines, and as migratory corridors for raptors and diurnally migrating passerines that follow Great Lakes shorelines.  Additionally, during spring and fall migration at least some Great Lakes shorelines and islands provide important refugia, foraging, and molt-migration areas for landbirds.   Conservation efforts for landbirds focused on Great Lakes shorelines have primarily focused on ensuring suitable habitat for migrating landbirds.  This includes formation of the Midwest Migration Network, shoreline protection, habitat restoration near Great Lakes shorelines, lights-out programs, especially in major cities, use of bird-friendly glass, and posting of a Great Lakes migration portal that provides guidance for conservation of stopover sites near the Great Lakes. 

Tuesday January 29, 2019 2:20pm - 2:40pm
HOPE BALLROOM B

2:40pm

(SYMPOSIA-08) Full Annual Cycle Ecology and Conservation of Migratory Birds in the Lower Great Lakes
AUTHORS: Christopher M Tonra, School of Environment and Natural Resources, The Ohio State University

ABSTRACT: Increasingly the bias in research towards the stationary portion of the breeding season in animal ecology is being recognized as a barrier to effective conservation. While breeding seasons limit productivity, survival can be most limited outside of the breeding season, and determining limiting factors during these stages can be critical to understanding population dynamics and habitat requirements. This is the case for many populations of migratory birds in the either breed, stage/stopover during migration, or overwinter in the lower Great Lakes. I will present an overview of full annual cycle research on migratory birds in the coastal lower Great Lakes, as well as a more detailed look into several case studies that have advanced our knowledge in this area. This will include an examination of applications for emerging technologies and coordinated monitoring to bridge current information gaps.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 2:40pm - 3:20pm
HOPE BALLROOM B

3:20pm

(SYMPOSIA-08) The Effect of Hydrological Restoration on Nutrient Concentrations and Macroinvertebrate Communities in Lake Erie Coastal Wetlands
AUTHORS: Elizabeth A. Berg, Lauren M. Pintor – Ohio State University, School of Environment & Natural Resources

ABSTRACT: Growing concern over the occurrence of harmful algal blooms has prompted efforts to reconnect coastal wetlands to Lake Erie and its tributaries in order to restore ecosystem functions and provide biodiversity support. In particular, stakeholders have collaborated to hydrologically reconnect approximately 2,397 acres of protected, diked wetlands in Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge in an effort to reduce nutrient inputs from the Maumee Area of Concern and improve habitat for economically important fisheries and wildlife. However, hydrologic connection to Lake Erie and impaired tributaries within the watershed may expose biota in previously diked wetlands to new stressors such as nutrient enrichment and invasion of non-native species. Here we examined the effect of hydrologic reconnection of diked wetlands on nutrient concentrations and macroinvertebrate biodiversity. Specifically, our objectives were to: 1) compare phosphorous and nitrogen concentrations between diked and reconnected wetlands,  2) compare taxonomic and functional trait diversity of macroinvertebrates between diked and reconnected wetlands, and 3) examine the relationships between nutrients and macroinvertebrate communities. If the reconnection of coastal wetlands had an effect on nutrient levels and macroinvertebrate communities, we predicted that 1) nutrients and macroinvertebrates would differ in reconnected and diked wetlands, and 2) macroinvertebrate communities would be impaired in wetlands with higher nutrient concentrations. We found total nitrogen was lower in reconnected wetlands, but total phosphorus was similar in reconnected and diked wetlands. All macroinvertebrate taxonomic metrics and most functional metrics were similar in reconnected and diked wetlands. Nutrient concentration gradients and yearly nutrient fluctuation, rather than wetland restoration, drove shifts in macroinvertebrate community structure.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 3:20pm - 3:40pm
HOPE BALLROOM B

3:40pm

(CANCELLED) (SYMPOSIA-08) Prioritizing Regional Landscapes to Achieve Biological and Social Objectives Through Wetland Bird Habitat Conservation
AUTHORS: Gregory J. Soulliere, Mohammed A. Al-Saffar – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

ABSTRACT: Targeting conservation to achieve biological objectives for waterfowl and social objectives for people is an emerging priority for bird conservation Joint Ventures implementing the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP).  To help achieve NAWMP goals in the Upper Mississippi / Great Lakes Joint Venture (JV) region, we integrated objectives related to waterfowl population demography, conservation supporters (hunters and birders), and ecological goods and services important to society and developed a Decision Support Tool (DST).  Starting with a table of contemporary conservation issues, we transformed related biological and social data into a family of six spatially explicit model-based maps designed to achieve individual objectives.  Output maps were weighted based on discussion with regional decision makers (i.e., the JV Management Board) and then combined, resulting in an aggregate DST to target conservation for waterfowl and people in the JV region.  The tool was designed to be flexible and adaptable; objectives and objective weights may be adjusted and subsequent output maps customized depending on stakeholder priorities.  Current JV objectives to retain and restore high value waterfowl habitats, while enhancing hunting and birding opportunity and addressing watershed impairments, resulted in a spatially explicit DST with solid emphasis in the lower half of the Great Lakes region.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 3:40pm - 4:00pm
HOPE BALLROOM B