Event Title

Distribution and Abundance of Waterfowl Species in Response to Dam Removal on the Elwha River

Co-Author(s)

Randall Jones

Research Mentor(s)

John McLaughlin

Description

Our study measured distributions and abundances of waterfowl species on the Elwha River following dam removals. Removal in 2011-2014 of two large Elwha River dams initiated one of the most comprehensively studied ecosystem restoration projects ever conducted. The project has attracted particular interest in effects of marine-derived nutrients (MDN) returning to the system via anadromous fish migration. We focused on birds expected to be among the first responding to MDN return, including harlequin ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus), spotted sandpipers (Acitis macularius ), common mergansers (Mergus merganser), American dippers (Cinclus mexicanus), and belted kingfishers (Megaceryle alcyon). We hypothesized that waterfowl abundances would increase and their distributions would expand upriver in response to MDN influx. During April and May 2018, we replicated pre-dam removal waterfowl surveys conducted by Barbara Blackie (2002). We conducted waterfowl counts along shoreline transects in accessible river reaches. We estimated species-specific abundances and distributions from transect data. Our results provide direct comparison of pre-dam removal vs. early post-removal waterfowl responses in mid spring. Additional surveys are needed throughout waterfowl breeding seasons to develop a more comprehensive evaluation of waterfowl responses. Our work represents the first post-dam removal evaluation of these important MDN-dependent species, and it should be replicated regularly to track the effects of restoration of anadromous fish population abundances and distributions.

Document Type

Event

Start Date

May 2018

End Date

May 2018

Location

Environmental Sciences

Rights

Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this document for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author’s written permission.

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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May 16th, 9:00 AM May 16th, 12:00 PM

Distribution and Abundance of Waterfowl Species in Response to Dam Removal on the Elwha River

Environmental Sciences

Our study measured distributions and abundances of waterfowl species on the Elwha River following dam removals. Removal in 2011-2014 of two large Elwha River dams initiated one of the most comprehensively studied ecosystem restoration projects ever conducted. The project has attracted particular interest in effects of marine-derived nutrients (MDN) returning to the system via anadromous fish migration. We focused on birds expected to be among the first responding to MDN return, including harlequin ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus), spotted sandpipers (Acitis macularius ), common mergansers (Mergus merganser), American dippers (Cinclus mexicanus), and belted kingfishers (Megaceryle alcyon). We hypothesized that waterfowl abundances would increase and their distributions would expand upriver in response to MDN influx. During April and May 2018, we replicated pre-dam removal waterfowl surveys conducted by Barbara Blackie (2002). We conducted waterfowl counts along shoreline transects in accessible river reaches. We estimated species-specific abundances and distributions from transect data. Our results provide direct comparison of pre-dam removal vs. early post-removal waterfowl responses in mid spring. Additional surveys are needed throughout waterfowl breeding seasons to develop a more comprehensive evaluation of waterfowl responses. Our work represents the first post-dam removal evaluation of these important MDN-dependent species, and it should be replicated regularly to track the effects of restoration of anadromous fish population abundances and distributions.