Evaluating tradeoffs between sanctuary for migrating waterbirds and recreational opportunities in a restored wetland complex

Heath M. Hagy, Michelle M. Horath, Aaron P. Yetter, Christopher S. Hine, Randolph V. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wetland restoration in highly modified landscapes involves balancing target ecosystem functions and values with constraints of landscape and stakeholder context. Often, a restored wetland complex cannot meet all target conditions simultaneously, and tradeoffs must be understood, evaluated, and quantified. We examined the tradeoff between providing migratory bird sanctuary and increasing public recreational opportunities within a restored floodplain wetland complex along the Illinois River. We surveyed the distribution and behavior of waterbirds in response to a gradient of spatial and temporal disturbances from waterbird hunting activities. Using ArcMap and spatial interpolation of waterbird densities as a novel approach to quantify sanctuary area, we estimated that approximately 42% of Emiquon Preserve functioned as sanctuary across disturbance intensities, hunter distribution, and time periods during autumn migration. Waterbird abundance did not increase with short-term temporal sanctuary or decreased hunting intensity. Disturbance distance around hunting locations was 752.1 m, overall, and increased 38.4 m for each additional hunting party. Exclusion distance around hunting locations was greater in areas with greater mean disturbance frequency. We question the effectiveness of short-term temporal sanctuary for waterbirds at the expense of recreational opportunities and advocate our analytical approach to quantify sanctuary area and disturbance buffers without experimentally causing disturbances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-118
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Disturbance
  • Emiquon Preserve
  • Floodplain
  • Hunting
  • Refuge
  • Waterbird

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science


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