Prime Bird Areas in the Great Lakes Lack Protection

By Joshua Rapp Learn.

Many prime areas for birds in the Great Lakes region of the United States lack protection, according to new research.

The northern shore of Lake Michigan is particularly rich in marsh bird biodiversity.

“There are a lot of high priority wetlands that need to be protected,” said Joanna Grand, a senior spatial ecologist with the National Audubon Society and lead author of a study published in Biological Conservation.

Grand and her co-authors used the findings to encourage the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to consider coastal wetland habitats for marsh birds as a top priority in the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan III, which strategically targets restoration and implementation efforts in the region. They developed a system to determine some of the most important marsh bird areas.

The team analyzed bird sighting data taken from the Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Monitoring Program and worked to characterize the types of landscapes where 14 species of marsh birds were typically found, including agricultural areas, developed areas and open water. They used this data to build models that would predict the best areas for marsh birds across the landscape for these 14 species…