In 1984, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the U.S. breeding population of Wood Storks (Mycteria americana) in their known range of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act, due to a population decline of 75 percent from the 1930s to the 1980s. In 1997, an updated Recovery Plan for the Wood Stork established two metrics to for determining the biological status: numbers of nesting pairs and regional productivity measured over time. Five-year averages of nesting pairs from annual aerial surveys show an increasing trend (1981-85, 1991-95, 2001-2005). Since listing in 1984, the average number of active colonies has almost doubled, however colony size has decreased. Current productivity estimates are similar to those recorded in the 1970s and 1980s. Monitoring continues to indicate that nesting numbers and productivity rates are variable within and among years and within and among colonies. Variability is likely related to environmental factors affecting the quality of local and regional nesting and foraging habitats. Loss of natural foraging habitat continues to be a major threat, while the effects of the increasing number of constructed wetlands and their use as foraging areas is unknown. Habitat Management Guidelines are being updated and will address: managing colony sites, controlling predation and human disturbance, and core foraging habitat issues. One of the most important initiatives is the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), which has identifies the restoration of healthy wading bird populations as an expected benefit. It is anticipated that CERP will be a large contributing factor toward the recovery of this species.
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Vol. 31 • No. sp1