To evaluate water-level manipulations as a management tool in boreal wetlands, marsh bird and waterfowl habitat use were studied in the Saskatchewan River Delta, Manitoba, Canada, during 2008 and 2009. Call-response and aerial surveys were used to estimate densities of marsh birds and waterfowl, respectively, within six wetland basins undergoing two different water-level treatments. Generalized linear models were used to determine relationships between presence and densities of birds to water depth, vegetation characteristics, and relative forage fish and invertebrate abundances at two spatial scales. American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) and Piedbilled Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) densities were positively influenced by water depth and relative fish abundance. American Coots (Fulica americana) and diver waterfowl (Aythya, Bucephala) also responded positively to increased water depth, whereas dabbler waterfowl (Anas, Aix) were negatively influenced by increasing water depth. Densities of Sora (Porzana Carolina) and Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola) were positively correlated with the relative abundances of invertebrates, but negatively correlated with relative fish abundance. Due to the high avian biodiversity in the region, managers should focus on providing a variety of wetland habitats. Using a combination of partial water-level drawdowns and high water, habitat for numerous avian species can be created simultaneously within wetland complexes.
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Vol. 35 • No. 1