Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Featured Research: by Lyndsay Smith

Smith, L. A. & P. Chow-Fraser. 2010. Impacts of adjacent land use and isolation on marsh bird communities. Environ. Manage. 45: 1040-1051.

Lyndsay Smith and her co-author evaluated how urbanization around coastal wetlands affects marsh bird communities in southern Ontario. Birds specialized for nesting in wetlands were found to prefer rural over urban wetlands, whereas generalist species showed no preference. Synanthropic species (those using human-associated habitats for nesting) tended towards increased species richness and abundance in urban wetlands.

Rural wetlands, in comparison to urban wetlands, had significantly higher scores for an index of biological integrity specifically designed for marsh-bird communities (the Index of Marsh Bird Community Integrity). More isolated wetlands had lower biological integrity and lower species richness of obligate marsh-nesters than less isolated wetlands.

Management implications from this research include limiting urban development next to wetlands and the protection of all existing wetlands to preserve biodiversity and to mitigate against isolation effects.

Lyndsay is a Postdoctoral Fellow working in the Biology Department at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.