IWMM’s bird and habitat monitoring protocols were revised in February 2015 based on participant feedback and a habitat metric validation study. IWMM plans to transition all users to the new protocol for the 2015-16 field season. Key revisions and clarifications to the monitoring protocols include:
- Vegetation composition: this metric has changed from a top 4 dominants approach to a visual estimate of percent cover.
- Seed head assessment: the old approach was generic to all species in a unit and is now based on a published approach that has greater utility from a waterfowl energetics perspective.
- Seed head and vegetation composition: both now completed once late in the growing season.
- Interspersion, veg height, and % cover of habitat type can all change quickly in response to water levels, snow, and bird use. All three are now recorded concurrent with bird surveys.
- Bird surveys: Survey approach remains a whole area count using perimeter, flushing, or aerial approaches. Steps delineating the count area boundaries have been clarified.
- Disturbance: A chronic disturbance class has been added to capture the status of the units (hunted, sanctuary, etc).
- Management actions: Can now be tracked at the unit scale.
- In addition, IWMM is transitioning from the distributed Access database to a centralized, online database that will be available this Fall.
To assist participants in transitioning to the revised protocols and online database, IWMM held a webinar to provide training and will also hold in-person field sessions. The first webinar was held June 30 to introduce users to the new protocol and database, and highlight the benefits of using these tools.
Check out a recording of the protocol training webinar!