Abstract

The Kentucky Wetland Rapid Assessment Method (KY WRAM) is currently being developed as a tool for wetland regulators to estimate the biotic and functional condition of a wetland. I tested the validity of the rapid assessment method by correlating it with avian community indicators. I examined the effectiveness of KY WRAM to predict the species richness, diversity and abundance of birds at isolated, ephemeral forested wetlands in the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky. These seasonal pools provide important habitat for numerous wildlife and plant species. Up to 80% of the historic wetlands of Kentucky have been lost, and of those that remain, relatively little is known about their function within the ecosystem, including their role in avian life cycles. During both the autumn and winter seasons of 2011-2012, I conducted point count surveys at 19 wetlands by recording all species seen and heard. At each count, I used vocalization playback to increase species detectability. KY WRAM was scored at each wetland during the summer of 2011 by a separate team of EKU biologists. I analyzed the relationship of KY WRAM metrics expected to predict biological function (e.g. vegetation community characteristics) against measures of the avian community using simple linear regression. During the autumn season there was a statistically significant positive relationship between the total KY WRAM metric for each wetland and three indices of the avian community: Shannon-Diversity Index (R2=0.45), species richness (R2=0.49) and total abundance (R2=0.46). Regression analysis also indicated statistically significant positive relationships during the autumn season between the KY WRAM metric for habitat features and the avian indices of diversity and richness, but, other metrics of KY WRAM were not significantly related to avian community indices during the autumn season. Winter survey results did not indicate significant relationships between avian communities and KY WRAM. Taken together, these results suggest that the KY WRAM is a valid method of assessment of the avian component of the biological community. We plan to continue this research through the spring migration period in 2012 as well as to expand to additional wetland types with a broader geographical scope.

Semester/Year of Award

Spring 4-27-2012

Mentor

David R. Brown

Department/Professional Affiliation

Biological Sciences

Access Options

Restricted Access Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Department

Biological Sciences

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