Contribution of wetland and crop plant foods to meet energy needs of spring-migrating waterfowl in the Upper Mississippi River and Great Lakes region

Jake Straub, MS candidate
Advisor: Robert Gates

Spring-migrating waterfowl stopover at wetland sites in the Upper Mississippi River and Great Lakes (UMRGL) region to replenish and deposit energy reserves needed to complete migration and begin nesting. The diet of most species shifts from high energy plant foods consumed in winter to high protein foods (aquatic invertebrates) consumed during the breeding season. However, the seasonal timing of this dietary shift is poorly known and the availability of plant and invertebrate foods to support migrating waterfowl is not sufficiently quantified. The UMRGL region has experienced some of the highest rates of wetlands loss known in the U. S. and there is concern that adequate food resources may not be sufficient to support spring-migrating waterfowl. The goal of my study is to estimate energy available to spring-migrating waterfowl from plant foods in wetland and adjacent flooded cropland habitats in the MURGL region. This project will shed light on whether spring-migrating waterfowl are limited by energy acquisition (plant foods), protein acquisition (invertebrates) or simply the distribution and abundance of specific wetland types.

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