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Gainesville, FL, United States

Baldwin J.D.,Florida Atlantic University | Bass O.L.,South Florida Natural Resources Center | Browder J.A.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Cook M.I.,South Florida Water Management District | And 10 more authors.
Ecological Indicators | Year: 2014

The coastal marine environment is currently under threat from many anthropogenic pressures that were identified by the MARES project. Indicators of ecosystem health are needed so that targets can be set to guide protection and restoration efforts. Species of birds that are dependent on coastal habitats are ubiquitous along the coasts of southern Florida. Generally referred to as waterbirds, these species, although not all taxonomically related, share a common dependency on the marine environment for food, nesting habitat, or both. A suite of waterbirds was selected based on their perceived sensitivity to pressures in multiple coastal habitat types. The list of species was refined on the basis of a review of life history for characteristics that might make the species particularly vulnerable. Each selected species was then evaluated for sensitivity to the identified pressures using a hierarchical assessment that took into account the sensitivity, severity, and the temporal and spatial scales of the indicator to the given pressures. The selected suite of indicators was collectively sensitive to all the pressures except one. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Baldwin J.D.,Florida Atlantic University | Bass O.L.,South Florida Natural Resources Center | Browder J.A.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Cook M.I.,South Florida Water Management District | And 10 more authors.
Ecological Indicators | Year: 2014

In our companion manuscript we identified 11 waterbirds as indicators of various pressures on the coastal marine ecosystems of southern Florida. Here, we identify the habitats on which these species depend and the ecological linkages that make them representative of those habitats. Through the use of conceptual ecological models (CEMs), we develop tools that can be used by managers/decision makers to evaluate the health of the various habitats in order to rectify myriad problems that are occurring or will possibly occur in the future such that the valuable ecosystem services provided by these habitats can be maximized. We also demonstrate the practical use of these tools by documenting data availability, benchmarks, and scientific needs for each species. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Mahoney P.J.,Avian Research and Conservation Institute | Meyer K.D.,Avian Research and Conservation Institute | Zimmerman G.M.,Avian Research and Conservation Institute | Cattau C.E.,University of Florida
Southeastern Naturalist | Year: 2010

The endangered Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus (Florida Snail Kite) has been the focus of several ecological studies emphasizing movements between and within wetland fragments. These studies have required the ability to trap and radiotag free-flying adults without significant risk of injury. We developed and tested a safe alternative to previous methods for trapping Snail Kites as part of a comparative study of VHF and satellite telemetry. The aquatic bal-chatri borrows from historical trap designs with modifications for trapping aquatic birds at the surface of the water. It consists of a square PVC frame with a series of parallel flourocarbon stringers and a mesh basket to restrain the lure species. Nooses are attached to the stringers and used to ensnare the toes of a predatory bird. The trap is held afloat by the PVC frame, with the mesh basket, stringers, and nooses positioned just beneath the surface of the water. After determining effective trap placement in relation to perched birds, we captured 11 kites in 13 days with native pomacea paludosa (Florida Apple Snail) and exotic Pomacea insularum (Island Apple Snail) as lures. Our results indicated that the aquatic bal-chatri can be used to target specific Snail Kites and recapture previously trapped individuals. This trap design is a safe, efficient, and low-cost alternative to methods previously used for capturing Snail Kites. Additionally, the aquatic bal-chatri is relatively easy to use and appears to have minimal impact on foraging behavior and breeding performance of Snail Kites. Source

Bryan A.L.,Savannah River Ecology Laboratory | Meyer K.D.,Avian Research and Conservation Institute | Tomlinson B.A.,College of Charleston | Lauritsen J.A.,National Audubon Society | Brooks W.B.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Waterbirds | Year: 2012

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) foraging flight studies at 20+ colonies throughout the US range were reviewed to summarize foraging ranges and compared to 20, 25 and 30 km-wide regulatory buffers ("core foraging areas") created to provide sufficient foraging habitats for breeding storks. Mean (per colony) direct distances to foraging sites ranged from 2.7 to 18.1 km, and between 75-100% of all follow flights went to foraging sites within 20 km of their colony. Overall, reviewed follow flight data suggested that the 20-km buffer would be sufficient for all breeding colonies in the US. However, such a reduction is not supported at this time due to limited recent data for certain regions of the Wood Stork breeding range (e.g. central and southern Florida). Additional, preferably multi-year, foraging habitat use studies are needed to fill data gaps for these areas to better assess the validity of the CFA buffers. Source

Caudill D.,Avian Research and Conservation Institute | Caudill D.,Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission | Caudill G.,Avian Research and Conservation Institute | Caudill G.,Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission | And 4 more authors.
Waterbirds | Year: 2014

Many techniques to evaluate survival and movement of wildlife rely on the capture and instrumentation of individuals. However, effective capture techniques for Great Egrets (Ardea alba) outside the breeding season remain elusive, particularly a method to attain robust sample sizes to investigate several aspects of biology. A handheld pneumatic net gun method was developed and successfully captured 97 Great Egrets in 121 trap days. No direct mortalities or substantial injuries occurred. The handheld pneumatic net gun was more cost-effective than commercially available or similar devices, and could prove useful for sensitive species where injury or mortality must be minimized or where the use of explosive devices is restricted. Source

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