Carolyn Klein | 2024 I.S. Symposium

Carolyn Klein head shot

Name: Carolyn Klein
Title: Investigating the Influence of Pond Size and Water Quality on Water Bird Visitation at the William J. Robertson Nature Preserve
Major: Environmental Studies
Advisors: Carlo Moreno; Jennifer Ison (second reader)

Agriculture and urban expansion have caused widespread degradation and fragmentation of wetland ecosystems in the United States. Redevelopment of industrial and agricultural lands into wetlands has shown promise as an effective way to decrease contamination and provide necessary habitat for local species, but there is a need for further research into understanding how diverse biotic communities can establish in restored brownfields. This study contributes to our understanding of wetland restoration in a former brownfield turned nature preserve in Northeastern Ohio, by investigating the influence of pond size and water quality on pond visitation differences by water birds. Bird counts and identifications were performed at seven adjacent ponds within the preserve between May 29th and September 24th, 2023, and were compared to recordings of six independent variables in each pond: water depth, pond area, amount of exposed shoreline, water pH, dissolved oxygen, and nutrient concentrations in water. Water birds were assigned to three functional groups: dabbling waterfowl, predatory wading birds, and shorebirds. Friedman tests showed that each bird group recorded significantly different visitation rates between the seven study ponds. Dominance analyses showed that the amount of exposed shoreline was the strongest predictor variable of these differences in bird visitation between ponds for all three bird groups, with pond area as the second strongest variable. More broadly, the results of this study suggest that prioritizing variety in water depth, pond sizes, and vegetation types at preserves such as the one in this study should facilitate the continued arrival of diverse bird communities.

Posted in Symposium 2024 on April 24, 2024.