Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Mississippi
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Feaga, J.S., F.J. Vilella, R.M. Kaminski and J.B. Davis. 2015. Waterbird use of catfish ponds and Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative wetlands in Mississippi. Waterbirds 38(3):269-281.


Aquaculture can provide important surrogate habitats for waterbirds. In response to the 2010 Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill, the National Resource Conservation Service enacted the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative through which incentivized landowners provided wetland habitats for migrating waterbirds. During the winters of 2011–2013, we estimated diversity and abundance of waterbirds in six production and four idled aquaculture facilities in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. Wintering waterbirds exhibited similar densities on production (i.e., ~22 birds/ha) and idled (i.e., ~20 birds/ha) sites. We found a total of 42 species using both types of aquaculture wetlands, but there was considerable departure in bird communities occupying the two wetland types. Our results suggest production and idled MBHI aquaculture impoundments produced suitable conditions for various waterbird species. We advocate the importance of conservation programs on private lands, especially those that promote diversity in vegetation structure and water depths to enhance waterbird diversity.