The Florida LAKEWATCH
Aquatic Bird Survey
What is it?
The objective of the LAKEWATCH Aquatic Bird Survey is to establish a statewide monitoring system to examine seasonal and yearly trends in Florida's aquatic birds.
Many bird species are known to associate with Florida's lakes, but few studies have directly quantified their numbers or examined long-term trends in diversity and abundance. As Florida's wetlands continue to be altered or destroyed, the need to better understand the value of these take systems to aquatic bird communities is of increasing importance.
Early studies by Mark Hoyer and Dr. Dan Canfield, of the University of Florida's Program in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, revealed that aquatic bird abundance is strongly correlated with lake trophic status, and that species richness is strongly correlated with lake surface area (See links below). The LAKEWATCH Aquatic Bird Survey will expand upon these findings and answer further questions about the effects of shoreline habitat, water chemistry, and broad-scale climatic factors on foraging, nesting, and roosting aquatic birds. Ultimately, such findings will allow Florida to develop better management strategies for its lake environments.
Want to read more about the importance of aquatic birds to lakes?
A very enjoyable recent article by Mark Hoyer in a publication of the North American Lake Management Society called "Lakeline" is a nice overview of the groups and characteristics of aquatic birds, and discusses ways in which they are important both ecologically and to lake management.
Hoyer, M.V. 2013. Lake management and aquatic birds. Lakeline 32 (1):15-18 Download pdf, (with permission from Editor, Lakeline, North American Lake Management Society)
The following three articles describe some of the previous research that has been conducted on aquatic birds found on Florida lakes.
Hoyer, M.V. and D.E. Canfield, Jr. 1990. Limnological factors influencing
bird abundance and species richness on Florida lakes. Lake and Reservoir
Management 6(2): 133-141.
Hoyer, M.V. and D.E. Canfield, Jr. 1994. Bird abundance and species richness on Florida lakes: influence of trophic status lake morphology, and aquatic macrophytes. Hydrobiologia 297/280: 107-119. Download PDF
Hoyer, M.V., J. Winn, and D.E. Canfield, Jr. 2001. Citizen monitoring
of aquatic bird populations using a Florida lake. Lake and
Reservoir Management 17(2): 82-89.
Hoyer, Mark V., Sky K. Notestein, Thomas K. Frazer and Daniel E. Canfield Jr. 2006. A comparison between aquatic birds of lakes and coastal rivers in Florida. Hydrobiologia 567:5-18. Download PDF
Other Wildlife-Related Volunteer Opportunities
Audubon of Florida (http://www.audubonofflorida.org/birds_citizenscience.html - lists several great bird-monitoring programs around the state.
National Wildlife Federation (http://www.nwf.org/backyardwildlifehabitat/habitatstewards.cfm - A good site to learn how to make your own backyard wildlife friendly and learn how to inform others as well
Cornell Lab of Ornithology (http://www.birds.cornell.edu/citscitoolkit/projects) An extensive list of national citizen science bird monitoring projects
Page revised January 14, 2014
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