Date of this Version
The Prairie Naturalist 44: 79–97. December 2012
A primary objective of the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) is to provide habitat for migratory birds throughout all seasons of the year. Comprehensive avian assessments are lacking and limit our ability to evaluate the benefits of the WRP to continental bird populations. I investigated avian species occurrence on WRP lands within the Lower Missouri River Valley (LMRV), Nebraska, USA, from March 2010 to February 2011. Ten WRP habitat types are described based on plant community assemblages and observed hydrological regimes. Estimates of avian species richness were greatest in lowland forest (n = 115), lowland woodland (n = 83) and upland forest (n = 77) habitats. Taxonomic measures of avian diversity differed between habitat types but was similar in respect to season. Ecological habitat types ranked according to avian preference revealed forest and wetland communities to be significantly utilized across the entire species assemblage as compared to grassland habitats. Ordination displayed similarity within grouped ecological habitat types and was supportive of a high dimensional community structure. Approximately one-half of all species documented met breeding level criteria, with 64 species confirmed as breeding. Taxonomic structure of breeding birds did not differ from the total WRP avian assemblage. I conclude that the regional and historical species pool within the LMRV remains largely intact and that WRP restorations exhibit the full complement of avian assemblage.