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Development of Great Lakes Environmental Indicators Based on Birds

The Great Lakes basin is one of North America's richest areas of breeding songbirds. This makes avian-based monitoring programs particularly important for this region.

Birds contribute unique information about ecological conditions. Bird populations are sensitive to fairly large-scale stresses like landscape degradation, and many bird species are predators of other animals or of insects. The combined effect of stressors such as habitat alteration, water contamination, lake level changes, and suburban predators like raccoons and skunk may contribute to bird population declines.

Many species of wetland birds in the Great Lakes region are listed as endangered, threatened, or of special concern in one or more states. Examples include king and yellow rails, common moorhen, least and American bitterns, osprey, piping plover, and Caspian, common, Forster's and least terns. We will identify the ways in which bird communities along the Great Lakes shoreline are impacted by human activities.

Bird indicators
(PDF file)
Developing Bird Indicators, a presentation by Dr. Howe & J. Hanowski

Scientific Abstract Counting Birds Bird species list
(Ecohealth App. A; PDF file)

Dr. Robert Howe, Department of Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Green Bay
JoAnn Hanowski, Natural Resources Research Institute, University of Minnesota Duluth
Dr. Charles Smith, Department of Natural Resources, Cornell University

For more about Bird Research go to:
NRRI's Forest Birds website

Cornell University's Bird Laboratory website