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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Sparrow and Salt Marsh Workshop Sponsored by Land Management Research and Demonstration Team

Region 5, August 2, 2013
Saltmarsh Sparrow
Saltmarsh Sparrow - Photo Credit: n/a
Sparrow and Salt Marsh Workshop attendees
Sparrow and Salt Marsh Workshop attendees - Photo Credit: n/a

On May 9th, 2013 the Northeast Region salt marsh Land Management Research and Demonstration (LMRD) team sponsored the “Sparrows and Salt Marshes” workshop at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Newburyport, Massachusetts. This workshop was designed to help drive the LMRD team’s mission to develop and implement innovative salt marsh restoration and management techniques. Saltmarsh sparrows are small, secretive songbirds that are restricted to salt marshes of the Atlantic and upper Gulf coasts. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) the saltmarsh sparrow is considered vulnerable due to its restricted nesting and foraging habitat. In recent years, there has been an increase in unusual high tides (potentially related to a slowed Florida current) along Southern New England. Since the sparrows nest is just centimeters above the marsh surface, they are susceptible to extreme high tide events. These more frequent elevated tides may be reducing the sparrows nesting success. Researchers are concerned that these new flooding events may lead the saltmarsh sparrow to the level of extinction. By understanding the ecology and ecosystem dynamics of marshes that are susceptible to high tides, we may be able to raise the success rate of saltmarsh sparrows by examining short- and long-term management responses.
During the workshop, 9 coastal management techniques were explored in a structured decision making framework. These techniques were designed to specifically improve marsh resilience and increase the success of short-term saltmarsh sparrow nesting and fledging. Some of the techniques are being piloted this summer. The workshop team is hopeful that by combining ecosystem and wildlife scientists we will have a greater chance to help the saltmarsh sparrows survive the challenges ahead.

 

For further information please contact:
Susan C Adamowicz PhD
LMRD Biologist
Rachel Carson NWR
207-646-9226 x 31
Susan_Adamowicz@fws.gov

Groups Represented
FWS: Susan Adamowicz, Suzanne Paton, (not in photo: Jan Taylor, Kate O’Brien, Toni Mikula, Nancy Pau, Laura Eaton, Erin King)
University of Connecticut: Chris Elphick, Chris Field
University of Delaware: Greg Shriver
Connecticut College: Scott Warren
Environmental Protection Agency: Walter Berry
Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife: Tom Hodgman
Narrangansett Bay NERR: Kenny Raposa
Save the Bay: Marci Cole
The Nature Conservancy: Nicole Maher
University of Maine: Brian Olsen
University of New Hampshire: David Burdick, Adrienne Kovach
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute: John Teal, Susan Peterson Teal
Audubon: David Curson (by weblink)

Contact Info: Stephanie Petrus, 207-646-9226, stephanie_petrus@fws.gov