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Joint Venture-Funded Blue-winged Teal Research Nears Completion
Midwest Region, May 10, 2012
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Greg Soulliere, Upper Mississippi River and Great Lakes Region Joint Venture Science Coordinator, holds a male blue-winged teal while researchers apply transmitter to the female.
Greg Soulliere, Upper Mississippi River and Great Lakes Region Joint Venture Science Coordinator, holds a male blue-winged teal while researchers apply transmitter to the female. - Photo Credit: Karen Keiffer

During the process of developing a 2007 Upper Mississippi River and Great Lakes Region Joint Venture Implementation Plan, many information gaps and uncertainties in Midwest bird conservation were uncovered. One of the evaluation needs identified by the Joint Venture’s waterfowl committee was to determine habitat requirements and population limiting factors of breeding blue-winged teal in the Prairie Hardwood Transition. This area, also known as Bird Conservation Region 23, lies entirely within the Service's Midwest Region and includes central Minnesota, southern Wisconsin and southern Michigan.

 The blue-winged teal has been a relatively common breeder across the north half of the Midwest Region since waterfowl surveys began decades ago, but populations of this species have declined precipitously in eastern portions of its range.

The Joint Venture partnered with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to evaluate habitat features influencing breeding blue-winged teal populations. At the beginning of this 4-year project, and again earlier this month, JV science staff joined Wisconsin DNR teal researchers in the field. “Decoy traps” were used to capture female blue-wings; field crews then attached tiny transmitters on the backs of the hens to follow their movements during spring and summer.

This will be the project’s last breeding season where marked teal are followed (radio tracked) to determine habitat use, nest success, hen and brood survival, and the landscape characteristics most related to reproductive success. The types of predation will be determined, and the ideal habitat composition of wetland, grassland and other landscape features will be predicted based on findings of the study.

The JV planning process uses an adaptive approach – plan, implement and evaluate – with JV bird conservation strategies being periodically revised as new research findings can be incorporated. Other evaluation needs (both research and monitoring) to fill information gaps are listed in the 2007 JV Implementation Plan and associated Bird-group Conservation Strategies. For the latest information regarding the JV partnership and Implementation Plan visit www.UpperMissGreatLakesJV.org.
 


Contact Info: Gregory Soulliere, 517-351-4214, Greg_Soulliere@fws.gov



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