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Since 1995, the Marsh Monitoring Program (MMP) has existed as a long-term, Great Lakes basin-wide marsh bird and amphibian monitoring program, employing the skills and dedication of hundreds of ?Citizen Scientist? volunteer participants. Since its inception, the MMP has tracked population trends in numerous bird and amphibian species inhabiting marsh habitats affected by various levels of environmental stress. For example, the MMP has demonstrated that several marsh-dependent bird species, such as Least Bittern, Pied-billed Grebe, Black Tern and Virginia Rail have shown signs of population decline in the Great Lakes basin, while wetland edge or generalist species, such as Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat and Mallard, have experienced population increases. Similarly, the MMP has demonstrated consistently declining population trends for amphibian species such as Chorus Frog and American Toad.

Habitat preferences of marsh birds and amphibians are of particular interest to researchers, wetland managers and naturalists. MMP participants conduct habitat descriptions within their survey stations to help answer these questions. As a result, wetland management and conservation strategies can be established to benefit the full spectrum of marsh dependent species.

The MMP is involved in various regional initiatives throughout the Great Lakes basin. For example, the MMP is currently working with various U.S. Great Lakes Area of Concern (AOC) Remedial Action Plan teams to evaluate the status of wildlife-related Beneficial Use Impairments. Efforts to improve environmental conditions in AOCs can be measured by tracking recovery of marsh habitats through long-term MMP monitoring. MMP data have also been used to assess the health of Great Lakes coastal marshes through the development of Indicies of Biotic Integrity (IBIs). Government agencies and researchers can use IBIs to rank coastal marshes according to their level of environmental degradation, and therefore help to determine where to focus targeted restoration and remediation efforts across the basin. Finally, the MMP is working to integrate and service local MMP coordinators or ?ambassadors? who help provide grassroots-level MMP volunteer recruitment, training and servicing in Eastern Ontario. The hands-on assistance of ambassadors to their local volunteers helps to make MMP surveys more enjoyable and rewarding experiences.

For more information about the Marsh Monitoring Program please contact:

 Kathy Jones
 Ontario Volunteer Coordinator
Bird Studies Canada
P.O. Box 160
Port Rowan, ON, N0E 1M0
Phone: (519) 586-3531 ext. 124 or (888) 448-2473 (toll-free)
Fax: (519) 586-3532


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