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Citizens Behind the Science: The Use of Citizen Volunteers in Urban Bird Research. William P. Mueller WI Society for Ornithology WI Bird Conservation Initiative Timothy L. Vargo Urban Ecology Center Owen D. Boyle WDNR. An urban bird study - - -.

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Citizens behind the science the use of citizen volunteers in urban bird research

Citizens Behind the Science:

The Use of Citizen Volunteers in Urban Bird Research

William P. Mueller

WI Society for Ornithology

WI Bird Conservation Initiative

Timothy L. Vargo

Urban Ecology Center

Owen D. Boyle

WDNR


An urban bird study

An urban bird study - - -

  • Some of the most effective studies of bird species and changes, such as population declines, begin with a discussion of birds in the landscape…


Changes in the landscape fragmentation

Changes in the landscape: fragmentation

(Curtis 1956)


Patches of habitat in urban areas are surrounded by areas much less suitable for bird use

Patches of habitat in urban areas are surrounded by areas much less suitable for bird use


Milwaukee county s parks comprise a fragmented set of habitats for migrating land birds

Milwaukee County’s parks comprise a fragmented set of habitats for migrating land birds…


But these fragmented woodlands can be vital refuges for migrants

…BUT,these fragmented woodlands can be vital refuges for migrants!


Milwaukee county avian migration monitoring partnership mcammp

Milwaukee County Avian Migration Monitoring Partnership (MCAMMP)

Project Goals:

  • Assess bird use of small habitat patches in an urban matrix

  • Sampling & analysis of differences in vegetation that help to explain #1

  • Determine refueling rate of migrants in variable patch types, and thereby measure habitat quality

  • Train and utilize citizen scientists to accomplish these research goals and establish a long-term Citizen-based monitoring program


Importance of this research

Importance of this research

  • Migrants utilize a variety of stopover sites

  • One often-neglected set of sites are in urban areas

  • Urban habitats include parks and natural areas, often characterized by some degree of disturbance

  • This is one of the first studies nationwide to focus on how refueling rate and body condition are affected by quality of urban stopover habitats


Components of the mcammp project

Components of the MCAMMP Project

  • GPS mapping of sites

  • Transect counts of species on each site

  • Study design/ site selection

  • Vegetation sampling protocol

  • Mistnetting and banding of migrants and blood sampling of target species

  • Environmental education: students and citizen scientists


All study sites and transects were gps d and mapped on aerial photos

All study sites and transects were GPS’d, and mapped on aerial photos


Mcammp transects

MCAMMP Transects

  • 250 m in length X 40 m in width

  • Data on all species found, weather, time of day and duration of transect, degree of leaf development in canopy

  • 8 study sites in 2006-2007;

    4 additional sites in 2008


In the first 2 field seasons 90 species were found on transect counts including

In the first 2 field seasons, ~90 species were found on transect counts, including:


Citizens behind the science the use of citizen volunteers in urban bird research

Volunteers and the Transects

  • The Plan:

    • Volunteers seek certification by the Wisconsin Birder Certification Program (Bob Howe, UW-Green Bay)

  • The Reality…


Mcammp vegetation sampling

MCAMMP Vegetation Sampling


Vegetation sampling questions

Vegetation Sampling: Questions

  • What are the differences in the vegetation between sites that could explain differential bird use?

    • Plant species composition

    • Vegetation structure

  • How is habitat quality affected by the presence of invasive exotic plant species?


Vegetation data collection

Vegetation Data Collection

  • What are the differences in the vegetation of sites that could explaindifferential bird use/ refueling rates?

    • identify species

    • relative abundance/ % cover

    • canopy closure

    • bare ground/ leaf litter


Vegetation data collection1

Vegetation Data Collection

  • How is habitat quality affected by the presence of invasive exotic plant species?

    • abundance of dominant exotics

    • correlation with site use (transect/ banding data) or bird condition (blood analysis)?


Challenges of sampling vegetation

Challenges of sampling vegetation

with citizen scientists

  • No trails! (buckthorn/ honeysuckle thickets, steep-sided ravines)

  • Longer hours/ field season

  • Random sampling


Citizens behind the science the use of citizen volunteers in urban bird research

Benefits of sampling vegetation

with citizen scientists

  • Data collection assistance

    • data recording

    • plant I.D.

    • estimating percent cover/ canopy closure

    • tree measurements

  • Doubled the number of teams (data collected) per day


Citizens behind the science the use of citizen volunteers in urban bird research

MCAMMP Mistnetting and Banding


Mcammp banding program

MCAMMP banding program

  • Pilot Year: Two Stations - Riverside & Kletzsch Parks

  • Two teams banding on same day for comparison

  • Blood sampling of 7 target species:

    • Seed-eaters: SCJU & WTSP

    • Frugivores: SWTH & HETH

    • Insectivores: AMRE, YRWA, MYWA


Citizens behind the science the use of citizen volunteers in urban bird research

In the first two field seasons, 44 species were banded, with blood samples taken from all 8 target species.


Citizens behind the science the use of citizen volunteers in urban bird research

ASSESSING RATES OF FUEL DEPOSITION

AND STOPOVER HABITAT QUALITY

FOR MIGRATORY BIRDS

Christopher G. Guglielmo

University of Western Ontario


Citizens behind the science the use of citizen volunteers in urban bird research

Circulating lipid metabolites reflect

the metabolic state of migrants

METABOLITE FEEDING FASTING

TRIGLYCERIDE

B- OH- BUTYRATE


Citizens behind the science the use of citizen volunteers in urban bird research

Metabolite profiles change rapidly after a change in feeding rate in Wilson’s Warblers (Wilsonia pusilla).

**

*

Zajac et al. 2006 JAB 37:405-408


Mcammp blood sampling

MCAMMP: blood sampling


Citizens behind the science the use of citizen volunteers in urban bird research

A very small blood sample, taken from the brachial vein (sample size varies in relation to size of bird)


Blood sampling questions

Blood Sampling: Questions

  • How do migrants fare on small habitat patches in an urban matrix?

  • How effectively can they re-fuel?


The volunteer training process creating an mcammp citizen scientist

The Volunteer Training Process: Creating an MCAMMP Citizen Scientist

  • Volunteer workshop

    • Recruiting: introduction to the project partners, goals, and volunteer opportunities

  • Detailed training in the field

  • On-the-ground experience

  • Opportunities for team building

    • picnics and parties!


Mcammp volunteer and intern effort 2006 2007

MCAMMP Volunteer and Intern Effort (2006-2007)


Citizens behind the science the use of citizen volunteers in urban bird research

Vargo et al. (in press)


Citizens behind the science the use of citizen volunteers in urban bird research

The most extraordinary thing about the MCAMMP project is simply its people.


Volunteers and visitors are not always students

Volunteers and visitors are not always students…


But many are mcammp s environmental education component

…but many are: MCAMMP’s environmental education component


Citizens behind the science the use of citizen volunteers in urban bird research

A bird in the hand is…priceless!


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