Gulf of Mexico
Andy Nyman / LSU AgCenter

LA - LSU Research Explores How Coastal Changes Affect Wildlife

The LSU AgCenter has announced publication of research aimed at helping coastal planners predict the results of flood protection and wetland restoration on coastal wildlife.

The research was published in the “Wetlands” journal by U.S. Geological Service ecologist Brett Patton, LSU AgCenter coastal ecologist Andy Nyman and Megan La Peyre, assistant unit leader at the USGS.

The article, “Living on the Edge: Multi-Scale Analyses of Bird Habitat Use in Coastal Marshes of Barataria Basin, Louisiana, USA,” is online here. Patton conducted the research as part of her master’s thesis, which was directed by Nyman.

Nyman noted that wetland loss, navigation channels, flood protection and wetland restoration can replace open water with marsh grasses, or vice versa, and replace fresh marshes with saline marshes, or vice versa.

“The research produced standardized measurements of waterbirds using marsh grasses, waterbirds using marsh ponds and waterbirds using the edge habitat where grass meets ponds,” he said.

Alone, the measurements are of interest to wildlife managers and other naturalists, he said. But when combined with powerful computer models simulating water salinity, water depth, sedimentation, subsidence and wetland change, the standardized bird counts can allow coastal planners to objectively compare the likely response of waterbird abundance to different projects being considered.

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