Birds are often used as indicators for biodiversity and ecosystem health. While birds have been monitored in other parts of the Indian River Lagoon (IRL), there has been little research on birds in Mosquito Lagoon (ML, the northernmost portion of the IRL). This thesis first examines the abundance and diversity of birds in ML by using two years of photographic observations to assess seasonal variations and the use of various habitat features by specific bird taxa. Abundance and species richness were highest in winter, while evenness and Simpson's diversity were highest in summer. Moreover, natural and artificial habitat features were differentially utilized by specific bird taxa. A second objective was to use monthly bird surveys for three years to assess the utilization of live, restored, and dead oyster reefs by birds and to determine how oyster reef restoration impacts the bird community in ML. Infaunal abundance was also monitored in the reef sediments, as infauna serve as prey for birds. Results indicated that while restored reefs had relatively low bird abundances, they had similar proportions of foraging birds and similar bird assemblages as live reefs. By 6 months post-restoration, infaunal abundances on restored reefs became similar to live reefs, indicating similarities in prey availability. Another goal was to explore the selection of certain dead reefs by nesting Least terns and American oystercatchers. Reefs on which nesting activity had previously been observed were characterized and compared to reefs where nesting was not previously observed. Nesting sites had taller mangroves, steeper slopes, higher elevations, more vegetative cover, and less live oyster cover than non-nesting sites. Overall, results indicate that live, restored, and dead reefs are all being utilized by birds in ML, and that a mosaic of reef types may be best for providing foraging, loafing, and nesting habitat for birds.
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Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Copertino, Jessica, "Bird Abundance and Diversity and the Impact of Oyster Reef Restoration on the Bird Community in Mosquito Lagoon, Florida, USA" (2021). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 486.