O'Connell - Riparian Songbirds.docx - Water Resources - Oklahoma

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O'Connell - Riparian Songbirds.docx - Water Resources - Oklahoma Powered By Docstoc
					Name: Timothy O'Connell

Affiliation: Dept. of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State
University, 008-C Ag Hall, Stillwater, OK, 74078. 405-744-7593

Presentation Title: Riparian songbirds as indicators of watershed condition

Presentation Preference: oral presentation

        The first and second order streams that drain small watersheds provide a
variety of ecosystem services including purification of water, regulation of
groundwater and surface flow, and erosion control. The importance of these
services is reflected in the dedication of the Clean Water Act to address
chemical, physical, and biological integrity of our Nation’s waters. With respect
to biological integrity, the value of a stream becomes apparent when it supports
populations of endangered fish or mussels, but streams provide habitat for
numerous terrestrial species as well. The degree to which a stream can provide
habitat for riparian-associated wildlife that are not strictly aquatic can provide
useful insights into the overall conservation value of the watershed it drains.
Ecological assessments of small watersheds scalable to larger watersheds can
provide an indication of watershed condition over broad areas, e.g., ecoregions
or physiographic provinces. Such information can provide benchmarks for
monitoring and help to prioritize watersheds for conservation and restoration.
         The Louisiana Waterthrush is a small, migratory songbird that is an
obligate user of forested riparian zones. Waterthrushes place their nests directly
in the streambank of headwater streams or within an exposed root mass
generally within the riparian zone. They obtain nearly 100% of their food from
the water column or wetted perimeter, and have earned the nickname “feathered
trout” for their fondness of stoneflies, mayflies, and caddisflies. The reliance of
waterthrushes on high-quality streams has led to their featured use as indicators
of riparian condition in the Mid-Atlantic Region.
        Although Louisiana Waterthrush is the only obligate songbird of forested
riparian zones in eastern North America, additional facultative users of these
zones form a suite of riparian-associated birds that could provide the basic
structure to an indicator of condition for watersheds in Oklahoma. Acadian
Flycatcher, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Northern Parula, and Kentucky, Prothonotary,
and Black-and-white warblers all rely to varying degrees on vegetation structure
and composition associated with riparian forests. Productivity of riparian forests
relative to upland alternatives might also play an important role in their
distributions. This suite of riparian songbirds is likely sensitive to land use
changes, eastern redcedar encroachment, and reductions in instream flow.

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