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Wading bird prey production and prey selection in a dynamic wetland

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Date Issued:
2016
Summary:
Anthropogenic impacts, such as habitat destruction and spread of exotic species, are contributing to the sixth major extinction event in Earth’s history. To develop effective management and conservation plans, it is important to understand the ecological drivers of at-risk populations, assess the ability of a population to adapt to environmental change, and develop research methods for long-term ecosystem monitoring. I used wading birds nesting in the Florida Everglades, USA as a model system to address the challenges of managing and monitoring populations within an ecosystem greatly impacted by anthropogenic activities. Specifically, my project investigated 1) the prey selection of wading bird species, and the role of prey and foraging habitat availability on annual nesting numbers, 2) the ability of using diet change to predict species adaptability to a rapidly changing environment, and 3) the use of sensory data to provide low-cost, long-term monitoring of dynamic wetlands. I found that tricolored herons, snowy egrets, and little blue herons consumed marsh fish larger than those generally available across the landscape. Additionally, number of nests initiated by tricolored herons, snowy egrets, and little blue herons was strongly correlated with the annual densities of large fish available within the Everglades landscape. Conversely, number of nests initiated by wood storks, great egrets, and white ibises was more correlated with the amount of foraging habitat availability across the nesting season. Wood stork diets changed considerably since the 1960’s, consisting of mainly sunfish and exotic fish as opposed to marsh fishes dominant in historical diet studies. Storks also consumed more exotic fish species than they did historically. This diet plasticity and the species’ ability to exploit anthropogenic habitats may be conducive to maintaining population viability as storks experience widespread human-induced changes to their habitat. Sensory-only data models generated complementary results to models that used site-specific field data. Additionally, sensory-only models were able to detect different responses between size classes of fish to the processes that increase their concentrations in drying pools. However, the degree to which sensory variables were able to fit species data was dependent upon the ability of sensors to measure species-specific population drivers and the scale at which sensors can measure environmental change.
Title: Wading bird prey production and prey selection in a dynamic wetland.
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Name(s): Klassen, Jessica A., author
Gawlik, Dale E., Thesis advisor
Florida Atlantic University, Degree grantor
Charles E. Schmidt College of Science
Department of Biological Sciences
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Electronic Thesis Or Dissertation
Date Created: 2016
Date Issued: 2016
Publisher: Florida Atlantic University
Place of Publication: Boca Raton, Fla.
Physical Form: application/pdf
Extent: 133 p.
Language(s): English
Summary: Anthropogenic impacts, such as habitat destruction and spread of exotic species, are contributing to the sixth major extinction event in Earth’s history. To develop effective management and conservation plans, it is important to understand the ecological drivers of at-risk populations, assess the ability of a population to adapt to environmental change, and develop research methods for long-term ecosystem monitoring. I used wading birds nesting in the Florida Everglades, USA as a model system to address the challenges of managing and monitoring populations within an ecosystem greatly impacted by anthropogenic activities. Specifically, my project investigated 1) the prey selection of wading bird species, and the role of prey and foraging habitat availability on annual nesting numbers, 2) the ability of using diet change to predict species adaptability to a rapidly changing environment, and 3) the use of sensory data to provide low-cost, long-term monitoring of dynamic wetlands. I found that tricolored herons, snowy egrets, and little blue herons consumed marsh fish larger than those generally available across the landscape. Additionally, number of nests initiated by tricolored herons, snowy egrets, and little blue herons was strongly correlated with the annual densities of large fish available within the Everglades landscape. Conversely, number of nests initiated by wood storks, great egrets, and white ibises was more correlated with the amount of foraging habitat availability across the nesting season. Wood stork diets changed considerably since the 1960’s, consisting of mainly sunfish and exotic fish as opposed to marsh fishes dominant in historical diet studies. Storks also consumed more exotic fish species than they did historically. This diet plasticity and the species’ ability to exploit anthropogenic habitats may be conducive to maintaining population viability as storks experience widespread human-induced changes to their habitat. Sensory-only data models generated complementary results to models that used site-specific field data. Additionally, sensory-only models were able to detect different responses between size classes of fish to the processes that increase their concentrations in drying pools. However, the degree to which sensory variables were able to fit species data was dependent upon the ability of sensors to measure species-specific population drivers and the scale at which sensors can measure environmental change.
Identifier: FA00004716 (IID)
Degree granted: Dissertation (Ph.D.)--Florida Atlantic University, 2016.
Collection: FAU Electronic Theses and Dissertations Collection
Note(s): Includes bibliography.
Subject(s): Charadriiformes -- Habitat -- Florida -- Everglades
Ciconiiformes -- Habitat -- Florida -- Everglades
Everglades National Park (Fla.) -- Environmental conditions
Predation (Biology)
Wetland ecology
Wildlife conservation
Held by: Florida Atlantic University Libraries
Sublocation: Digital Library
Persistent Link to This Record: http://purl.flvc.org/fau/fd/FA00004716
Use and Reproduction: Copyright © is held by the author, with permission granted to Florida Atlantic University to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Use and Reproduction: http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/
Host Institution: FAU
Is Part of Series: Florida Atlantic University Digital Library Collections.