An evaluation of rapid methods for monitoring vegetation characteristics of wetland bird habitat

Wetlands Ecology and Management
By: , and 



Wetland managers benefit from monitoring data of sufficient precision and accuracy to assess wildlife habitat conditions and to evaluate and learn from past management decisions. For large-scale monitoring programs focused on waterbirds (waterfowl, wading birds, secretive marsh birds, and shorebirds), precision and accuracy of habitat measurements must be balanced with fiscal and logistic constraints. We evaluated a set of protocols for rapid, visual estimates of key waterbird habitat characteristics made from the wetland perimeter against estimates from (1) plots sampled within wetlands, and (2) cover maps made from aerial photographs. Estimated percent cover of annuals and perennials using a perimeter-based protocol fell within 10 percent of plot-based estimates, and percent cover estimates for seven vegetation height classes were within 20 % of plot-based estimates. Perimeter-based estimates of total emergent vegetation cover did not differ significantly from cover map estimates. Post-hoc analyses revealed evidence for observer effects in estimates of annual and perennial covers and vegetation height. Median time required to complete perimeter-based methods was less than 7 percent of the time needed for intensive plot-based methods. Our results show that rapid, perimeter-based assessments, which increase sample size and efficiency, provide vegetation estimates comparable to more intensive methods.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title An evaluation of rapid methods for monitoring vegetation characteristics of wetland bird habitat
Series title Wetlands Ecology and Management
DOI 10.1007/s11273-015-9476-5
Volume 24
Issue 5
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 11 p.
First page 495
Last page 505
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