The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) has restored nearly 600,000 ha of wetlands in the United States since inception of the program in 1996. However, no research has evaluated postrestoration management of WRP wetlands in relation to waterfowl and waterbird use. Therefore, we conducted an experiment to compare waterfowl and waterbird abundance and diversity between hydrologically managed (i.e., spring–summer drawdown for vegetation regeneration) and nonmanaged WRP wetlands in central New York, USA, in 2004. We surveyed waterfowl and other waterbirds on 5 managed and 5 nonmanaged wetlands over 3 10-week periods (i.e., spring: 7 Mar–15 May; summer: 16 May–24 Jul; autumn: 25 Jul–30 Sep). We detected a total of 36 taxa of these birds across the 3 periods and both types of wetlands but observed 1.4–2.3 times more taxa on managed than on nonmanaged wetlands among periods. Additionally, we recorded 0.8–13.2 times greater relative abundances (n birds/ha of wetland) of waterfowl and other waterbirds on managed than on nonmanaged wetlands during spring through autumn. We recommend regular postrestoration hydrological management of WRP wetlands to regenerate moist-soil and other emergent plants and promote waterfowl and waterbird use of these restored habitats.
Wetlands Reserve Program