Monitoring Birds in National Parks of the Gulf Coast Network

Science Center Objects

The Challenge: Avian monitoring within the Gulf Coast Network of the National Park Service is challenged to provide valid quantitative data on bird populations within park boundaries with limited financial input. Thus, citizen science (volunteer) bird monitoring has been proposed to achieve reliable estimates of bird populations and to assess the effects of habitat change and temporal dynamics of bird populations.

Gulf Coast Network geographic extent

Gulf Coast Network geographic extent

(Public domain.)

The Challenge: Breeding landbirds have been targeted for monitoring in Gulf Coast Network Parks because these species make extensive use of park ecosystems and can be monitored using standardize survey protocols. Avian monitoring within the Gulf Coast Network is challenged with providing valid quantitative data on bird populations within park boundaries, to achieve reliable estimates of bird populations and to assess the effects of habitat change and temporal dynamics of bird populations.

The Science: Avian monitoring schemes developed for National Parks within the Gulf Coast Network rely on only a few person-days of annual effort yet yield useful information on populations of many bird species and have a reasonable expectation of long-term (>20 years) implementation. Specifically, within Vicksburg National Military Park, avian monitoring is being used to predict changes to this parks bird community that resulted from of restoration of habitat to conditions more exemplative of those present during the Civil War. Repeated, within year, visits to fixed monitoring locations is used within most parks. Within Natchez Trace National Parkway, however, monitoring is achieved annually using multiple Breeding Bird Surveys distributed along the length of this parkway.

The Future: Avian monitoring will provide National Parks in the Gulf Coast Network with reliable, long-term assessment bird populations.