Developing a Marsh Monitoring Program for the Maritime Provinces (EHJV delivery area) 2012-2013

Final Project Report: Developing a Marsh Monitoring Program for the Maritime Provinces(EHJV delivery area),

2012-2013

Goals and Objectives

The purpose of the proposed project is to design and conduct a pilot study as a necessary first step towards establishing
an implementation plan for a longer-term monitoring and assessment program for waterfowl, migratory game birds, other
wetland-associated species, and their habitats in the Maritime Provinces. The program will be piloted in the Grand Lake
Lowlands Ecoregion which consists of two NB-EHJV priority ecodistricts (Aukpaque and Grandlake), represents over 4,000 ha
of EHJV-secured land (half of all of the EHJV land secured for NB) and contains much of the province’s key waterfowl and
migratory water bird habitat. Information gathered in 2012-13 will allow us to make decisions regarding protocols and sampling
intensity, as well as assess personnel and equipment needs, in order to determine the path to broader program implementation.

Over the long-term, our collective goal is to assess and monitor the status of wetland-associated species and the habitats upon
which they depend, in order to help establish wetland conservation and management priorities for the Maritimes and to assess
the effectiveness of ongoing conservation efforts by EHJV partners.

The goal of this project is:

1) Adapt standardized wetland monitoring and habitat sampling protocols to meet conditions in the Maritimes.

2) Test sampling protocols and assess suitability in garnering data required to meet overall program goals and objectives over the
long-term.

3) Conduct project evaluation.

Activities

April–May 2012:   Facilitate development of sampling framework for broader (Maritimes-wide) project implementation and ensure data being gathered will meet partners’ informational needs (e.g., incorporating brood surveys into monitoring protocols to assess productivity).

May-October 2012: Gather baseline information to: evaluate and refine sampling protocols, direct allocation of survey stations on a broader spatial scale, determine required sampling intensity, assess existing habitat descriptions and measurement protocols for their suitability toward assessing wetland species-habitat relationships in the Maritimes.

November–March 2012: Facilitate further planning, development and refining of sampling framework and project implementation.

Benefits to Waterfowl, Wetlands-Associated Species, and/or Other Wildlife

The proposed project will play a key role in evaluating the EHJVs progress towards achieving NAWMP objectives in the Maritimes by collecting information that permits an evaluation of current and proposed conservation programs. The NB EHJV Implementation Plan (2007-12) recognizes that the relationship between habitat conditions and waterfowl populations requires further information and that an evaluation is required to test biological assumptions as well as guiding principles. The proposed project will provide the link between habitat and population objectives; ensuring that wetland population goals are being achieved through current JV habitat conservation and management activities as well as providing the information needed to adaptively manage JV conservation programs.

The proposed project will be designed to assess and monitor the status of all wetland-associated species and their habitats, including other migratory game birds as well as other wetland-dependent water birds.

Relevance to Habitat Planning, Decision Making and/or Management

The information gathered will enable Maritime EHJV partners to evaluate current wetland habitat securement, enhancement, restoration, and management efforts towards achieving population goals. Further, the information gathered will contribute to better knowledge of wetland species-habitat associations and habitat features that influence occupancy, distribution and relative abundance at multiple spatial scales. This information will be used to direct, refine and adapt future management and conservation activities within the EHJV’s highest priority regions in the Maritimes.

Project Location

This project is located on the Grand Lake Lowlands ecoregion; covers parts of Sunbury, York and Queen’s counties, over various fresh-water wetlands (program will broaden to include coastal wetlands in year 2). The location also covers two NB EHJV priority ecodistricts: Grand Lake and Aukpaque.

Project Contact

For more information on this project, please contact Becky Stewart, Atlantic Program Manager, Bird Studies Canada, Sackville, NB.