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F.3-4: Linking LTRM Vegetation Data with Bioenergetics Needs of Waterfowl to Inform Wildlife Habitat Management

Presented by Kirsten I Schmidt - Email: kschm107@uwsp.edu

The Upper Mississippi River is a large and diverse ecosystem known for its rich diversity of flora and fauna. Many areas of the Upper Mississippi River harbor vast areas ideally suited for the growth of aquatic vegetation, especially wild celery (Valisneria americana). Wild celery tubers are an excellent food source for migrating waterfowl, due to its high energy content some species like canvasbacks (Aythya valisineria) prefer wild celery. Since 1998 the Long Term Resource Monitoring (LTRM) element Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program has monitored aquatic vegetation. There are uncertainties however, on how data collected by the LTRM is related to waterfowl habitat quality and bioenergetics. This study aims to determine if LTRM rake scores can reliably predict winter bud biomass estimates from core samples in impounded areas of pools 4, 8, and 13 of the Mississippi River, compare the amount of wild celery buds in areas open and closed to waterfowl hunting after the fall migration, and estimate the kilocalories of energy provided by wild celery winter buds. Substrate cores were collected at the same locations as LTRM rake sample sites in pools 4, 8, and 13 and were distributed within areas open and closed to hunting. Cores were taken in fall 2018 and spring 2019 before the annual waterfowl migration. LTRM rake scores were positively related to wild celery winter bud counts for Pool 8 (P < 0.05, R2 = 0.38). Winter bud counts used with documented bud weight and caloric values can estimate the total kilocalories in the sampling areas. For the Pool 8 open area theres an estimated 457,871,385 kilocalories available compared to 1,165,800,695 kilocalories in the closed area to hunting. These numbers translate to 1,144,678 canvasbacks use-days in the open area, and 2,914,501 use-days in the closed area.
Session: Winter Energetics (Wednesday, August 28, 15:30 to 16:50)