The Nature Conservancy (TNC) identified key ecological attributes (hereafter, KEAs) of specific biological characteristics or ecological processes that could indicate restoration success and trajectory at the Emiquon Preserve (hereafter Emiquon; The Nature Conservancy 2006). Because of the historic importance of the Illinois River valley to waterfowl and other waterbirds, several conservation targets and associated KEAs at Emiquon were related to waterbird communities and their habitats (Appendix A). Inde ed, use of wetlands by waterbirds may serve as an indicator of landscape condition or a measure of restoration success (Austin et al. 2001, Gawlik 2006). Therefore, we monitored the response of wetland vegetation and waterbirds to restoration efforts at Emiquon during 2016 to evaluate restoration success relative to desired conditions under the relevant KEAs. Our primary efforts included evaluating: 1) abundance, diversity, and behavior of waterfowl and other waterbirds through autumn aerial counts and spring ground counts; 2) productivity by waterfowl and other waterbirds through brood counts and nest searches; 3) plant seed biomass to estimate energetic carrying capacity for waterfowl during autumn migration; 4) biomass of wetland plants and seeds emigrating from Emiquon through the water control structure; and 5) composition and arrangement of wetland vegetation communities and associated cover types through geospatial covermapping and soil properties in response to water management. Herein, we report results of our monitoring efforts and interpret them as a means of evaluating restoration activities at Emiquon with respect to desired conditions under the KEAs.
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