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 Abstract
 Methods and materials
 Results and discussion
 Acknowledgement
 Reference






Group Title: Journal of Lake and Resevoir Management, 17 (2). pp. 82 - 89
Title: Citizen monitoring of aquatic bird populations using a Florida lake
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Title: Citizen monitoring of aquatic bird populations using a Florida lake
Series Title: Journal of Lake and Resevoir Management, 17 (2). pp. 82 - 89
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Language: English
Creator: Hoyer, Mark V.
Winn, John
Canfield, Daniel E. Jr.
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Publication Date: 2001
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Table of Contents
    Abstract
        Page 82
    Methods and materials
        Page 83
    Results and discussion
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
    Acknowledgement
        Page 89
    Reference
        Page 89
Full Text

Journal of Lake and Reservoir Management 17(2):82-89, 2001
0 Copyright by the North American Lake Management Society 2001


Citizen Monitoring of Aquatic Bird Populations

Using a Florida Lake




Mark V. Hoyer1
Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Gainesville, Florida



John Winn
Citizen Monitor
RR1 Box 479
Waldo, Florida



Daniel E. Canfield, Jr.
Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
University of lorida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Gainesville, Florida




ABSTRACT

Hoyer, M. V.,J. Winn and D. E. Canfield,Jr. 2001. Citizen monitoring of aquatic bird populations using Floridalake.
Lake and Reserv. Manage. 17(2):82-89.

Five years of monthly bird counts on a 2.32 km2 lake in north central Florida were used to examine the ability of
a citizen volunteer to monitor aquatic bird populations. When compared to published aquatic bird data, collected by
professional biologists, the citizen volunteer was able to accurately assess bird abundance and species richness. The
monthly counts over a five-year period were also used to examine seasonal patterns in aquatic bird use. We highly
recommend the development of citizen based aquatic bird monitoring programs for the assessment of reportedly
declining aquatic bird populations. This would be especially useful if entire states programs could be developed to
monitor regional as well as temporal trends in aquatic bird populations.

Key Words: water quality, bird species richness, lake area, bird abundance.


Florida supports a rich and diverse population of
aquatic birds, which increases dramatically in the win-
ter as migratory populations move south (Hoyer and
Canfield 1990). Nesting populations of many species
have reportedly declined over the past few decades
(Kushlan et al. 1984; Ogden 1994). This decline has
been attributed, in part, to the loss of wetland habitat.
From 1950 to the mid-1970s, there was a tremendous
loss of palustrine emergent wetlands (freshwater


'Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.


marshes, wet prairies, and the everglades), accounting
for 74% of the total wetland loss in the state (Hefner
1986).
Aquatic bird studies in Florida generally are con-
ducted in marsh systems, with only a few studies
examining aquatic bird populations using lake sys-
tems (Jenni 1969; Johnson and Montalbano 1984;
Hoyer and Canfield 1994). With the reported loss of
wetland habitat in Florida, the importance of Florida's
lake systems to aquatic bird populations may be in-
creasing and warrant more study (Edelson and Collopy
1990).







CITIZEN MONITORING OF AQUATIC BIRD POPULATIONS USING A FLORIDA LAKE


Florida has more than 7,700 lakes that range in
size from 0.4 ha to over 180,000 ha (Shafer et al. 1986).
It would be difficult for any state agency or university
to acquire the resources needed to monitor aquatic
bird populations, with professional biologists, on a
large percentage of these lake systems (e.g., 1,000
lakes). It would be even more difficult if the aquatic
bird monitoring was needed monthly over several
years to examine temporal trends and migratory pat-
terns. Similar statements can be made about water
quality monitoring. However, citizen volunteers have
successfully and economically monitored water chem-
istry on over 1050 lakes in Florida, with many lakes
sampled monthly for over five years (Florida
LAKEWATCH 2000). Thus, the objective of this study
is to evaluate the ability of citizen volunteers to moni-
tor aquatic bird populations in Florida lakes, as a
possible way to acquire much needed information on
the aquatic bird populations in Florida. Using five
years of monthly bird counts from one Florida lake,
this paper will evaluate the ability of citizen volunteers
to document species richness, bird abundance, and
temporal trends in aquatic bird populations.



Methods and Materials

Study Lake

Lake Alto is located in north central Florida
(Alachua County) and has a surface area of 2.32 km2
(Fig. 1). The lake is located in the Upper Santa Fe
Flatwoods Lake Region (Griffith et al. 1997), in a
geology dominated by deeply weathered clayey sand
and granular sand of the Hawthorn Formation
(Brooks 1981). Lake Alto is relatively undeveloped,
with a 100 m buffer of terrestrial land around the lake
dominated by a mosaic of wetland mixed forest (50%),
mixed wetland hardwoods (30%), shrub-brush land
(10%) and residential (10%) (Florida LAKEWATCH
unpubl. data).
Lake Alto has been in the Florida LAKEWATCH
program (a citizen based water quality monitoring
program) since 1987. The long-term average total
phosphorus, total nitrogen, and chlorophyll concen-
trations for 139 monthly samples are 15 pg L1,
560 pg L1, and 10 pg L, respectively (Florida
LAKEWATCH 2000). Secchi depth averaged 1.8 m
during this same time period. These values suggest
that Lake Alto is a eutrophic lake following the criteria
of Forsberg and Ryding (1980). Lake Alto is also a
softwater (alkalinity=1.5 mg L as CaCO3), acidic
(pH=5.9) lake with moderate true color of 44 Pt-Co
units.


In 1998, Lake Alto had a moderate amount of
aquatic vegetation with a percent area covered with
aquatic vegetation of 30% and a percent volume occu-
piedwith aquatic plants of 5% (Florida LAKEWATCH
2000). Approximately 30 species of aquatic plants
were identified in the lake with an average emergent,
floating leaved and submersed plant biomass of 7.8,
2.6 and 0.8 kgwetwt m-2, respectively.


Bird Counts

Bird counts for this study were conducted follow-
ing the methods of Hoyer and Canfield (1990; 1994).
Aquatic birds for this study were considered those
birds that were observed using any type of aquatic
habitats. Some bird species counted in this study (e.g.,
black vulture, turkey, vulture, and cattle egret) are
generally not considered aquatic birds but because
they were counted over or in direct proximity of Lake
Alto they were included as aquatic birds. The counts
were conducted between 9:00 am and 12:00 noon
once a month from January, 1995 to December, 1999.
The birds were counted by a citizen volunteer who
also collects water samples for the Florida
LAKEWATCH program. The observer motored slowly
around the perimeter of the lake in a small boat and
birds were identified to species except gulls, terns, and
crows. Care was taken to avoid counting birds twice if
they flushed ahead of the boat.


Statistical Analyses

Relations of bird abundance versus chlorophyll
concentrations and species richness versus lake sur-
face area have been recorded using data from over
40 Florida lakes (Hoyer and Canfield 1990; 1994).
Lake Alto's annual average chlorophyll data (Florida
LAKEWATCH 2000) and annual average aquatic bird
abundance (birds km2) was plotted on the aquatic
bird abundance versus chlorophyll relation published
by Hoyer and Canfield (1990) to determine if the
citizen volunteer's counts put Lake Alto into the range
expected for other eutrophic Florida lakes. Aquatic
bird species richness for Lake Alto was defined as the
total number of aquatic bird species seen throughout
the study period. This value was also plotted with Lake
Alto surface area on the aquatic bird species versus
lake surface area relation published by Hoyer and
Canfield (1994) to determine if the citizen volunteer
observed the number of aquatic bird species expected
for a Florida lake with a surface area of 2.32 km2.
Monthly bird counts for a period of 5 years al-
lowed the creation of two cumulative species list by






HOYER, WINN AND CANFIELD, JR.


Figure 1.-Location in Florida and bathymetric map of Lake Alto. Contours are in feet.


sampling event relations to determine how many
monthly counts are needed to observe the maximum
number of aquatic bird species on a given lake. These
data also allow us to average individual bird species
counts by month to examine seasonal patterns for
individual bird species using a Florida lake.



Results and Discussion

Lake Alto had a total species richness of 33 aquatic
bird species from 1995 through 1999 (Table 1). Of the
33 species 17 were counted at least once in every year
(e.g., great blue heron Ardea herodias) and eight were
counted in only one year (e.g., common loon Gavia
immer). These data suggest that some birds com-
monly use a Florida lake system while others are only
occasional visitors. This is similar to the findings of
Hoyer and Canfield (1994) who observed fifty aquatic
bird species in their survey of 46 Florida lakes with


some species occurring on only one lake throughout
the study.
Annual average total bird abundance on Lake
Alto ranged from 14.54 birds km- in 1998 to 26.93
bird km2 in 1997 (Table 1) and the five-year total
average bird abundance was 19.77 birds -km2. It is
interesting to note that the year with the lowest bird
abundance (1998) is also the year of tremendous rains
covering north central Florida where lake Alto is
located. Potentially, the rain could have created exten-
sive wet areas allowing aquatic bird to disperse into
newly created habitat and decreasing the need to use
Lake Alto. On the opposite side, the highest average
bird count was collected in 1997 with 26.93 birds -km2
and this was the driest year in the data set. It is possible
that normally wet areas had dried up in 1997 making
Lake Alto an attractive refuge for aquatic birds during
dry weather. Over the five year study, the three most
abundant bird species using Lake Alto were turkey
vulture Cathartes aura (8.63 birds -km r), black vulture
Coragyps atratus (3.03 birds kmi), and cattle egret






CITIZEN MONITORING OF AQUATIC BIRD POPULATIONS USING A FLORIDA LAKE


Bubulcus ibis (1.18 birds kmn2). The least abundant (Nilsson and Nilsson 1978; Murphy et al. 1984).In Fig.
bird species, all with only one bird being counted in 2 we plotted the annual average total bird abundance
five years, were thecommon loon Gaviaimmer, horned and corresponding annual average chlorophyll value,
grebe Podiceps auritus, and northern harrier Circus for each year of Lake Alto counts, on the bird abun-
cyaneus. dance versus chlorophyll data published byHoyerand
Total bird abundance among lakes generally in- Canfield(1994). The bird abundance values fallwithin
creases with an increase in chlorophyll concentrations the range of 46 other Florida lakes but below the


Table 1.-Annual mean bird abundance, by species, for 33 aquatic bird species counted on Lake Alto, Florida
between 1995 and 1999.
Yearly Average Bird Abundance (Birds km'2)
Common Name Scientific Name 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999


American coot Fulica americana
Anhinga Anhinga anhinga
Bald eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Belted kingfisher Ceryle alcyon
Black vulture Coragyps atratus
Black-crowned night-heron Nyctcorax nycticorax
Cattle egret Bubulcus ibis
Common loon Gavia immer
Crows (Corvidae')
Double-crested cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus
Great blue heron Ardea herodias
Great egret Casmerodius albus
Green heron Butordes striatus
Gulls (Laridae: Larinae2)
Horned grebe Podiceps auritus
Lesser scaup Aythya affinis
Uttle blue heron Egretta caerulea
Northern harrier Circus cyaneus
Osprey Pandion haliaetus
Pied-billed grebe Podilymbus podiceps
Purple martin Progne subis
Red-shouldered hawk Buteo lineatus
Red-tailed hawk Buteo jamaicensis
Red-winged blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus
Ring-necked duck Aythya collaris
Ruddy duck Oxyura jamaicensis
Snowy egret Egretta thula
Terns (Laridae: Sterninae2)
Tricolored heron Egretta tricolor
Turkey vulture Cathartes aura
White ibis Eudocimus albus
Wood duck Aix sponsa
Wood stork Mycteria americana


0.000
0.287
0.036
0.108
0.718
0.036
5.173
0.000
0.681
2.838
0.251
0.467
0.323
0.179
0.000
0.000
0.036
0.000
0.323
0.143
0.108
0.287
0.036
0.108
0.000
0.000
0.000
0.179
0.036
6.250
0.000
0.036
0.036


0.036
0.970
0.072
0.466
3.770
0.000
0.251
0.000
1.221
1.365
0.394
0.681
0.179
0.000
0.000
0.000
0.000
0.000
0.538
0.251
0.036
0.143
0.072
0.575
0.000
0.000
0.036
0.072
0.000
7.722
0.000
0.359
0.036


0.000
0.682
0.036
0.323
7.255
0.000
0.036
0.108
0.860
0.036
0.072
0.826
0.215
0.000
0.036
0.108
0.000
0.108
0.358
0.108
0.179
0.143
0.000
0.000
0.143
0.000
0.000
0.072
0.000
14.260
0.610
0.358
0.000


0.000 0.000
0.430 0.826
0.108 0.036
0.143 0.251
1.759 1.653
0.000 0.000
0.000 0.431
0.000 0.000
0.609 0.968
0.000 3.951
0.466 0.645
0.753 0.645
0.179 0.179
0.036 0.000
0.000 0.000
0.000 0.000
0.072 0.000
0.000 0.000
0.789 0.646
0.000 0.215
0.215 0.359
0.179 0.143
0.072 0.108
0.072 0.000
0.000 0.000
0.000 0.036
0.036 0.000
0.036 0.036
0.000 0.000
7.327 7.615
0.683 0.000
0.323 0.682
0.252 0.036


Yearly Totals (Birds- km-) 18.7 19.2 26.9 14.5 19.5

(1) Listed as family
(2) Listed as subfamily







HOYER, WINN AND CANFIELD, JR.


100 As mentioned above, species richness of many
types of flora and fauna are related to area sampled
(Flessa and Sepkoshi 1978; Connor and McCoy 1979),
Lake Alto including aquatic bird species richness and lake area
S(Hoyer and Canfield 1994). In Fig. 4, we plotted total
o* bird species richness and lake area for Lake Alto on
S* the relation between bird species richness and lake
.area reported by Hoyer and Canfield (1994). The Lake
S10 Alto data fall directly on the best fit linear regression
S* line for the relation. These data again suggest that
o citizen volunteers can accurately count aquatic birds
W using lakes and that they can accurately determine
2 total bird species richness.
) /With limited temporal data (three counts in one
Cn year) Hoyer and Canfield (1990) showed some sea-
sonal patterns in the abundance of individual bird
.01 10

Lake Area (sq km) Cummulative Species Richness
Figure 2.-Lake Alto's yearly average chlorophyll concentration
and aquatic bird abundance from 1995 through 1999 (indicated o o
with an x) plotted on the relation between average annual bird
abundance(birds/km2)andtotalchlorophygll(pg LI)for 46 Florida
lakes (Hoyer and Canfield 1994).


average bird per unit of chlorophyll among all lakes. A
possible explanation for this could be that the average
values from Hoyer and Canfield (1994) are from three o
counts duringthe yearwhile this study was the average
of 12 counts per year. These data do suggest, however,
that citizen volunteers can estimate aquatic bird abun- Z
dance values that fall within the range of those esti-
mated by professional biologists. o
Determining total species richness of any flora or
fauna is difficult because most times the number of
species encountered is dependent on the number of
sampling events conducted and the size of the area 0
sampled (Elliott 1977). Because the area of Lake Alto
remained relatively constant over the period of this -
study it is important to determine the number of
sampling events needed before no additional bird "
species were encountered. Thus, we plotted a cumula- "
tive aquatic bird species count versus number of O -
monthly counts to determine how many monthly c
counts are needed before no more additional species -
are added to the total species richness for Lake Alto
(Fig. 3). The number of aquatic bird species counted
increased rapidly in the first few months but did not -
reach a maximum until the lake had been surveyed for
36 months. An additional 24 monthly counts did not
reveal any new species so we feel comfortable that 33 U
is an accurate assessment of the total species richness
for Lake Alto (Table 1). There is, however, always the _
chance that another rare species could be observed at Figure S.-Cmulative aquatic bird species richness plotted by 60
Lake Alto. consecutive monthly (1995-1999) bird counts for Lake Alto, lorida.







CITIZEN MONITORING OF AQUATIC BIRD POPULATIONS USING A FLORIDA LAKE


1000


E
0V
a 100
I-




10
CQ
r 1
.0
tt0


Chlorophyll (pg/L)
Figure 4.-Lake Alto's total aquatic bird species richness and lake
area (indicated with an x) plotted on the relation between aquatic
bird species richness (birds species/lake) and lakes surface area
(km2) for 46 Florida lakes (Hoyer and Canfield 1994).



species using 33 Florida lakes. They showed that total
bird abundance is higher during winter months then
the rest of the year. This is also true for Lake Alto with
total bird abundance ranging about 25 to 54 bird-km-2
from November through February and about 6 to 21
bird km2 for the remainder of the year (Table 2).
While total bird counts show high bird abundance
during winter months, examining individual bird spe-
cies shows some other interesting patterns.
With limited monthly data Hoyer and Canfield
(1990) divided individual bird species into the follow-
ing groups based on the percentage of lakes an indi-
vidual bird species occurred on during winter, spring
and summer periods; 1) resident-migrants, 2) winter-
migrants, and 3) spring-migrants and 4) summer-
users. Examining the seasonal trends for individual
species using Lake Alto data shows that many species
fit into these groups but some do not (Table 2). It is
possible with only three monthly counts in one year
that Hoyer and Canfield (1990) mayhave placed some
species into groups that may not describe the true
seasonal pattern of those species. For example, Hoyer
and Canfield (1990) suggested that the red-shoul-
dered hawk was a winter-migrant but the data from
Lake Alto indicate red-shouldered hawk was observed
in all but two months (January and August, Table 2)
suggesting it is probably a resident-migrant.
With five years of monthly data on Lake Alto we
examined seasonal trends for the aquatic bird species
that use the lake. Using three of the same group tides


as Hoyer and Canfield (1990) and adding one called
visitor, we divided the seasonal patterns into four
groups (Table 2); 1) resident-migrants, 2) summer-
users, and 3) winter-migrants and 4) visitor. A resi-
dent-migrant is a species that was counted in almost
every month but tended to have higher count during
winter months. A good example of a resident-migrant
is the great blue heron (Fig. 5a). A summer-user is a
species that is usually not counted in the winter months
but is counted in increasing and then decreasing
numbers throughout the summer. A good example of
a summer user is the green heron (Fig. 5b). A winter-
migrant is a species that is rarely counted in the
summer months but is counted in increasing and then
decreasing numbers throughout the winter. A good
example of a winter-migrant is a pied-billed grebe
(Fig. 5c). A visitor is a species that is only counted in
low numbers and usually in only one or two months.



1.5- A. Great Blue Heron
1.0-

0.5'

E 0.0-
r 41 '2 3 4 '5 .6 17 -8 9 '10 1 *12
US

1.5- B. Green-backed Heron



S 0.5

0 .0 -
S .o ... .. .
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 '11 12
I-
J 1.5-
< C. Pied-billed Grebe
1.0-

0.5-

0.0- .-
1 '2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 '10 11 12
Month
Figure 5.-Examples of three seasonal patterns in aquatic bird
species abundance using Lake Alto, Florida. A) Resident-migrant
(e.g., Great blue heron), B) Summer-user (e.g., Green-backed
heron), and C) Winter-migrant (e.g., Pied-billed grebe). Bird abun-
dance of each species was averaged by month for the five years of
counts and plotted. The line represents the grand mean of all
values. The quantile boxes show the median value as a line across
the middle of the box and the 10* and the 90" quantiles are the
lines above and below the box.








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CITIZEN MONITORING OF AQUATIC BIRD POPULATIONS USING A FLORIDA LAKE


These group ties may hold true for Lake Alto but not
all other Florida lakes. We suggest additional monthly
counts from a variety of Florida lakes be examined
before these group titles be used extensively.




Conclusions

Five years of monthly bird counts on a 2.32 km2
lake in north central Florida were used to examine the
ability of a citizen volunteer to monitor aquatic bird
populations. When compared to published aquatic
bird data, collected by professional biologists, the
citizen volunteer was able to accurately assess bird
abundance and species richness. The monthly counts
over a five-year period were also used to better define
seasonal patterns in aquatic bird use. We highly rec-
ommend the development of citizen based aquatic
bird monitoring programs for the assessment of re-
portedly declining aquatic bird populations. This
would be especially useful if entire states programs
could be developed to monitor regional as well as
temporal trends in aquatic bird populations.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:Journal Series No. R-07942
of the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station. We
thank the thousands of professionals and citizens who
faithfully support the Florida LAKEWATCH program.




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Nilsson, S. G. and I. N. Nilsson. 1978. Breeding bird community
densities and species richness in lakes. Oikos. 31:214-221.
Ogden, J. C. 1994. A comparison of wading bird nesting colony
dynamics (1931-1946 and 1974-1989) as an indication of
ecosystem conditions in the southern Everglades. P. 533-570.
In:Davis,S. M. andJ. C. Ogden(eds.), Everglades:The ecosystem
and its restoration. St. Lucie Press, Delray Beach, FL.
Shafer, M. D., R. E. Dickinson,J. P. Heaney and W. C. Huber. 1986.
Gazetteer ofFloridalakes. WaterResearch Program Engineering
and Industrial Experiment Station. Publication No. 96.
University of Florida, Gainesville and U.S. Geological Survey,
Gainesville, FL.






CITIZEN MONITORING OF AQUATIC BIRD POPULATIONS USING A FLORIDA LAKE


These group ties may hold true for Lake Alto but not
all other Florida lakes. We suggest additional monthly
counts from a variety of Florida lakes be examined
before these group titles be used extensively.




Conclusions

Five years of monthly bird counts on a 2.32 km2
lake in north central Florida were used to examine the
ability of a citizen volunteer to monitor aquatic bird
populations. When compared to published aquatic
bird data, collected by professional biologists, the
citizen volunteer was able to accurately assess bird
abundance and species richness. The monthly counts
over a five-year period were also used to better define
seasonal patterns in aquatic bird use. We highly rec-
ommend the development of citizen based aquatic
bird monitoring programs for the assessment of re-
portedly declining aquatic bird populations. This
would be especially useful if entire states programs
could be developed to monitor regional as well as
temporal trends in aquatic bird populations.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:Journal Series No. R-07942
of the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station. We
thank the thousands of professionals and citizens who
faithfully support the Florida LAKEWATCH program.




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