Table of Contents
ISRN Ecology
Volume 2012, Article ID 217357, 13 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.5402/2012/217357
Research Article

Constructed Borrow-Pit Wetlands as Habitat for Aquatic Birds in the Peace Parkland, Canada

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2E9

Received 16 July 2012; Accepted 2 August 2012

Academic Editors: A. Chappelka, T. Muotka, D. Pimentel, and E. Serrano Ferron

Copyright © 2012 Eva C. Kuczynski and Cynthia A. Paszkowski. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The Peace Parkland, Alberta, Canada is part of a continentally important region for breeding and migrating aquatic birds. As a result of resource development and agricultural conversion, many wetlands have been lost. Road construction in the area results in the creation of borrow pits, <3 ha ponds created when soil is removed to form the road bed. We surveyed 200 borrow pits for aquatic birds in May through August 2007. We examined patterns of occurrence and richness, categorizing ponds based on surrounding landscape type: agriculture (0–33.3% forest within 500 m), mixed habitat (33.4–66.6% forest), and forested (66.7–100% forest). Principal Component Analysis indicated that pond environments differed based on local and landscape features. Twenty-seven species of aquatic birds used borrow pits, with 13 nesting. Nonmetric Multidimensional Scaling and Indicator Species Analysis of birds observed in each month revealed assemblages characteristic of agricultural ponds, including horned grebe, lesser scaup, American coot, and mallard, and of ponds with >33.3% forest, including bufflehead, ring-necked duck, green-winged teal, and American wigeon. Because borrow pits were used by a variety of dabbling and diving aquatic birds in repeatable assemblages across the breeding season, we propose that these wetlands be integrated into avian conservation strategies.