THE USE OF STABLE ISOTOPES, eBIRD AND SPECIES DISTRIBUTION MODELS TO ASSESS MIGRATORY CONNECTIVITY OF FALL MIGRATING RAILS

2017-07-17T18:55:31Z (GMT) by Auriel Fournier
Understanding the timing and connectivity of seasonal movements of individuals between habitats is essential for the effective conservation and management of migratory species. Documenting migratory connectivity is especially difficult for secretive species like rails. Rails are among the least studied birds in North America. I propose using stable isotopes, and species distribution models based on eBird data to predict the migratory connectivity of rails. Sora and Virginia are game species in North America who we hunt despite our lack of information about their population levels, trends and connectivity. Both species, along with the non-game Yellow Rail are thought to be declining, but the cause is unknown. The National Marshbird Monitoring Program will soon bring us actual population estimates and monitoring, but addressing any negative population trends to inform conservation and management without understanding rail connectivity will make science based management difficult. This project would be an informative first step at understanding the migratory connectivity of these species in the central United States. I will collect feathers from rails during migration, along with the breeding and wintering grounds to create an accurate map of the connectivity of migratory rails in Missouri. I will use their δD value along with species distribution models to document their migratory connectivity and compare it to the migratory paths of other wetland species