Coastal Wetland Restoration Success Stories-Fleming, 2012


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Great Lakes coastal wetlands exist in severely altered watersheds and landscapes that can result in degraded wetland conditions (e.g., monotypic vegetation, invasive species), and management actions required to maintain biologically diverse wetlands can be ecologically limiting (e.g., diked wetlands with minimal hydrologic exchange). We report on three GLRI-funded projects designed to improve coastal wetland ecosystems by restoring hydrologic connectivity, increasing fish passage, and enhancing wetland ecosystem functions and services. Biological monitoring is an integral component of each project and includes traditional and innovative research efforts focused on results with broad application across the Great Lakes basin.

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  • These gauges also record water temperature (nearest 0.1 degree Celsius). Water level and temperature measurements will be taken continuously every 2 hours throughout the duration of the study to compare levels with those measured by the NOAA National Water Level Observation Network (NWLON) at Alexandria Bay NY
  • - monitoring spring spawning runs of pike for abundance and spawning condition in trap nets set following ice-out and monitored daily for two weeks from April 1 to April 14. Emigration traps will be set for two weeks from June 1 to June 14 - Juvenile traps consist of 122-cm height by 366-cm length with 0.8-mm mesh nylon wings and a 0.8-mm mesh lined minnow trap fish identified to species, counted and measured for total length (mm). - Muskrats have an impact on the ecology and habitat structure within coastal marsh complexes and can affect cattail dominance within many of the study areas - Populations of secretive marsh-dependent bird species, such as rails and bitterns, appear to be declining both locally and regionally in the eastern Great Lakes area - Focus on Virginia Rail and Black Tern, but ancillary data on abundance and distribution will be captured for Pied-billed Grebe, Common Moorhen, Least Bittern, American Bittern, Sora Rail, Virginia Rail, Yellow Rail, American Coot, Purple Gallinule, and other marsh birds. Surveys will be repeated at a given site 5 times per season (May 1 – June 30) Numerous amphibian and reptile species are sensitive to habitat disturbances in the eastern Great Lakes region, with widespread concern for at-risk populations due to continued habitat loss Turtle trapping using standard protocols
  • Official presentation end slide, as well as the ballroom slide.
  • Coastal Wetland Restoration Success Stories-Fleming, 2012

    1. 1. Habitat Challenges:Lake Ontario Case Study HOW-Great Lakes Coalition Conference 2012Session: GLRI Coastal Wetland Restoration Success Stories Presenter Sarah Fleming, Regional Biologist Ducks Unlimited, Inc. September 12, 2012
    2. 2. Hydrologic alteration, as a result of regulation, has hadbig effects on wetlands.• Extensive diverse wet meadows have declined in areaover 50% since early 1960s.• Cattail-dominated marsh has expanded in response tostable water levels – reducing diversity of species andnatural communities in wetlands.
    3. 3. Habitat ChallengesNY Case Study : Lake Ontario abundance
    4. 4. Fish Habitat Conservation Strategy: Program Strategy Overview PHASE I Planning/design/outreach TILT Baseline data SUNY-ESF AccessPrioritization NYSDEC Experimental designAccess USFWSDesign STR Education Modify approach PHASE II PHASE III Implementation Research/monitoring USFWS SUNY-ESF USDA Toolkit actions NYSDEC DU USGS NYSDEC Evaluate impact
    5. 5. Monitoring: French Creek (2010) : justification for more work through FEMRF
    6. 6. Preliminary Results from 2010 Monitoring Data provided by SUNY-ESF
    7. 7. Implementation: St. Lawrence
    8. 8. NOAA - $1 million(A) Restoration (B) MonitoringCompleted winter 2012-2013 Ongoing 2012-20131) French Creek WMA- -Vegetation Carpenters Branch -Hydrology -Nutrients -Trophic levels -Faunal Linkages -Muskrat houses -Marshbirds2) French Creek WMA – -Herps Lower French Creek3) Point Vivian – Private property
    9. 9. Study SitesPoint VivianFrench Creek/Carpenters Branch Lake Ontario
    10. 10. Is it functioning?
    11. 11. Monitoring :Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP)• Short-term duration, but will provide baseline• Compare treatment sites (restoration) to reference sites (no restoration)• Allow for post-enhancement priorities• Goal: ascertaining faunal and habitat responses that can be attributed to the enhancement effort and provide baseline data for assessment responses in the future
    12. 12. MethodsWater Level/Hydrology : a) water level loggers and staff gaugesNutrients/Lower Trophic Levels a) examine relationships of water quality variables (solute chemistry) to changes in water levels to assess effects of enhancements b) Chemistry samples will be taken seasonally in spring (April 15), mid-summer (July 15), and fall (October 15) to represent periods of hydrological change c) For lower trophic levels, sampling will focus on monitoring invertebrate composition and density (grab samples)
    13. 13. MethodsWetland Vegetation a) Transects will bisect each study site along a wetland elevation gradient b) Sampling points: staked, marked, and GPS. Vegetation measurements: 1-m2 quadrat. Plant species composition and percent cover of each species according to a Braun-Blauquet scale will be measured c) Samples once during July 15-August 15
    14. 14. PRELIMINARY RESULTS:i) Typha spp. on habitat mounds < Typha spp. on referenceii) Moisture: habitat mounds that were drier had less species richness and coverage of non-Typha spp. compared to mounds that were more moist.iii) Restoring native vegetation was site-specificiv) Submerged aquatic plants (Hydrocharis morsus-rananae) was less in excavated channels than the natural channels.
    15. 15. MethodsFaunal Linkages:1) Fish: Spring runs, emigration runs of YOY pike (size and abundance) = index of spawning success rates.2) Muskrat house density : winter counts3) Avifauna: Conway protocol, audio loggers4) Herpetofauna: frog calls (North American Amphibian Monitoring Program Protocols) and turtle trapping (baited hoop nets).
    16. 16. Preliminary Results-12 detections at water controlled sites 2 x as many in water controlled sites - No focal spp. at French Creek -YOY and adults using restored sites - Detected at P.V. (restored site), not at (F.C. and PV) reference.
    17. 17. Similar Studies Lakeview WMA, Jefferson county, NY TNC project funded by EPA through GLRI: ResultsFish 2011 – 1 YOY NOPI 2012 – 14 YOY NOPIMuskrats 2011- no signs 2012 – visible signsBlack Terns 2011 – 1 pair 2012 – 1.5 pairs
    18. 18. Similar Studies Lake Erie, ONLong Point Waterfowl: Greater total bird abundance on restored sites Greater marsh bird species richness Invertebrates: relative abundance was 1.7 times greater in restored Plant species richness and diversity greater at restoredPublished: Schummer et al. Wetlands, 2012
    19. 19. Summary• Short-term trends support positive benefits after only one year• Response of native plant community• 4-5 year out, channels are still open and minimal cattail encroachment• Re-established connectivity• Managed sites support greater positive responses from target spps.• More data and studies needed(publications in prep.)
    20. 20. QUESTIONS?
    21. 21. Field Trips: Board on the 1st floor, West Superior Ave entrance (bottom of Grand Staircase) Trolleys board 2:30Joint Reception: trolleys begin departing at 5:45
    22. 22. Spread the word! Wireless password: HOW12 Conference website: Conference.healthylakes.orgEmail us photos, comments, tweets or video: On Twitter? Use the hashtag: #healthylakes