Monitoring to Conserve Midwestern Birds
Thanks to Mark we are moving forward! A real take-home message from the conference is that we need to keep in mind what questions we are looking to address. Valuable areas of interest that we discussed included:
- Wind Energy
- Energetics and Age Ratios, missing demographic information, population connectivity, to augment our annual cycle conceptual models
- Stopover model validation – Models are being redeveloped.
So... has anyone experience a success full upload of banding data to the midwest AKN node?
I've been registered as a Project Leader for some time and will soon call PRBO to discuss metadata and file specs. Once someone (Mark) successfully uploads pointcount data, we will be better able to advise other banders to contribute through a shared protocol. We could assign a methodology code similar to those already used on AKN (i.e. MAPS5, MAPS6) that indicate a shared level of constant effort mist netting with shared derived parameters. Comparable data is imperative.
Once there, we can begin to contact banders willing to participate throughout the midwest. BSBO has a great template as a master station that is a "top-producer" which pools data from other stations. We need to identify these top producers.
Once Katie posted the meeting notes we can get moving forward. Here is the rough shot for those that weren't able to make the conference;
TWG To-Do List
- TWG Members
- Standardize protocol
- Use protocol to answer questions/issues
The TWG group will work on this by September 1st, and have something worked up by October 1st for all of the TWG To-Do List.
I've just read over the August 2011 notes -- great work!
Regarding impact of invasive species/fruit energy...
RRBO has been collecting fecal samples from fall migrants; this is our 5th year for Catharus thrushes, and 3rd year for other species (primarily AMRO and GRCA). We are able to identify 98% of seeds pooped out to at least genus. We should have adequate sample sizes to do some analyses after this season. A colleague also has two students working on biochemical/morphological analyses of several of the species of fruit found here, with the goal being all the major fruit components of migrant diets.
Finding funding for this has been difficult. Aside from the limitations of my own situation, finding specific funding for wildlife use of non-native, invasive species (the primary diet components here) is very difficult. Most invasive species funding is for prevention or eradication. We have already determined Catharus thrushes do gain substantial mass here, and they are eating more non-native fruit than native. These findings makes this research very unpopular! It would be great to identify funding sources for this type of work.
What percentage of their diets were fruits? Good news for the Catharus Thrushes, maybe?
If the invasive species are helping them migrate, could increased success in migration be effecting modeling belying their decline as the result of habitat loss? Just a wild guess, but more to keep us thinking about the multitude of factors effecting birds in times of changing landscape. Could this tie into work on thrushes (mainly Hylocichla) being well funded?
Just my 2 cents.
Fruit (pulp or seeds) is found in nearly all AMRO, GRCA, and Catharus samples. For samples with seeds, ~40% contain Common Buckthorn; it's the most common fruit in samples overall. Second is honeysuckle at ~25%, grape and pokeweed are both about 15% (some samples contain more than one species). We have a lot of Gray Dogwood, but it's found in <10%. Not the type of results I expected, especially when we look at specific periods when many fruit species are abundant in a small area, and birds still seem to go more for non-natives. Some research indicates that risk-averse migrants go for more high-carb, energy-rich, foods rather than high lipid fruit which takes longer to digest. The biochemical study is to determine if the non-native fruits here may have evolved some different properties since arrival in North America that may make them more valuable to migrant birds.
I think my results so far are actually good news for migrants. For me, it is heartening to know that disturbed urban areas can still offer adequate resources. The way some people react to it is with horror that invasive species could actually perform an ecological function. Do you mean to tell me you would rather I found out eating these fruits was causing them to lose weight and probably endangering their successful migration? Geez. Another goal of my research is to determine which non-native species are providing the most "benefit." Maybe it will turn out if you have a very invaded area, you should remove honeysuckle first, then buckthorn, for example. Just more data to help with cost-benefit analysis in restoration attempts.