Assessment of Migratory Waterfowl Populations and Native Wetland Plant Remnants in LGBFR

Purpose

Migratory waterfowl comprise one of the most historically, culturally, and economically important elements of the Green Bay ecosystem. Prince et al (1992) estimated that 12% of the breeding pairs of dabbling ducks in the entire Great Lakes occur in Green Bay, along with by far the highest concentrations of migratory diving ducks in Lake Michigan. Additionally, there is a documented, dramatic rise in the number of mollusk-feeding diving ducks following the invasion of dreissenid mussels in the 1990s. This increase in diving duck numbers was accompanied by a spatial shift in duck concentrations, leading to large rafts of ducks in shallow rock/gravel shoals where zebra mussels or quagga mussels are abundant. Despite the importance of waterfowl to the region, few studies have quantified waterfowl use in Green Bay. No systemic monitoring of migratory waterfowl in the Bay has been established. Plant foods for waterfowl and other wetlands wildlife have declined severely in the LGBFR AOC. Remnant populations of many native wetlands species still are present in the LGBFR AOC, but they need to be identified, mapped, and protected if they are to serve as reservoirs of recolonization and restoration activities.

Objective

This project will complement the second year of a larger project to assess baseline fish and wildlife habitat conditions and document potential habitat restoration opportunities in the LGBFR AOC and its immediately contributing watershed. The primary focus will be on the area within 1 km of the ordinary high water mark between the Point au Sable on the east shore of Green Bay and Longtail Point on the west shore. The specific goals of the projects are: 1. Develop and implement a systematic, repeatable method for surveying migratory waterfowl in the AOC. This method will include permanent ground survey points (e.g., Point au Sable Nature Preserve, Cat Island Wave Barrier) as well as a sustainable method for aerial sampling, potentially including the use of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones McEvoy et al. 2016). Specific objectives for this aspect of the project are as follows: a) Identify and map locations where waterfowl stage within the AOC during both fall and spring migratory periods. b) Describe waterfowl species composition and estimate seasonal numbers of individuals in the AOC. c) Describe how waterfowl distributions change throughout each migratory period and across seasons. d) Compare data collected at ground survey points with aerial sampling and describe how these field methodologies differ. 2. Identify and map critical remnants of native wetland and submerged aquatic plants in the AOC, possibly including nearby areas that may serve as sources and benchmarks for restoration projects. 3. Collaborate with agencies and other researchers to assemble information from previous and ongoing projects that are relevant to goals 1-2. In other words, avoid duplication of efforts in order to maximize field effort and to complement existing sources of information.

Outcome

The listed project deliverables for UW-Green Bay assumes all responsibility to provide to WDNR are listed as follows: 1. A quality assurance project plan (QAPP) that is approved by WDNR and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As noted below, the QAPP will further outline in more detail deliverables, final products, and project expectations and will serve as an extension of this plan. Project-specific outcomes that are not identified below will be identified during the project planning process. The QAPP will be one of the first tasks of the proposed project. 2. Consultations with WDNR regarding completion of the project goals (frequency and logistics of these consultations will be outlined in the QAPP). 3. Stakeholder debriefing/input meetings (frequency and logistics outlined in the QAPP). 4. A spatially explicit, standardized protocol for monitoring migratory waterfowl in the AOC and recommended, permanent long-term sampling points for future monitoring. 5. Results from a trial survey of waterfowl during fall 2016 and spring 2017 using the standardized protocol. 6. A list of important indigenous plant species that are important to fish and wildlife populations in the AOC, including both food plants and plant species that provide indirect benefits such as nesting cover and habitat for a productive trophic community. 7. A digital (GIS) map of important remnants of native plant diversity in the AOC, focusing on species that will be critical sources of propagules for ecological restoration efforts. 8. Quarterly written updates that address o Amount of money spent that quarter; o Deliverables and work accomplished during the quarter; o Any problems that were encountered and how they were resolved; and o Planned tasks/deliverables for the next quarter Updates will be e-mailed to the WDNR project manager. 9. Final report summarizing Deliverables 5-8.

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Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
Toxics and Areas of Concern
GL00E01091_GBF1601_Waterfowl
2016
Active
 
Reports and Documents
Scope of Work for UW-Green Bay's project to assess the migratory waterfowl populations and native wetland plant remnants in the Lower Green Bay and Fox River AOC.
2017 Quarter Three quarterly report for the Assessment of Migratory Waterfowl Populations and Native Wetland Plant Remnants in the Lower Green Bay and Fox River AOC.