US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Biological Conservation 128 (2006) 298-307; doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2005.09.036


While it is widely understood that local abundance of benthic invertebrates can greatly influence the distribution and abundance of wetland birds, no studies have examined if wetland landscape context can mediate this relationship. We studied the influence of wetland food abundance and landscape context on use of agricultural wetlands by wintering dunlin (Calidris alpina) and killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, USA, over two winters (1999–2000, 2000–2001) of differing rainfall and subsequent habitat distribution. We monitored bird use (frequency of occurrence and abundance) at a sample of wetlands differing in local food abundance (density and biomass) and landscape context [adjacent shorebird habitat (defined as ha of wet habitat with less than 50% vegetative cover and within a 2-km radius) and nearest neighbor distance]. We evaluated predictive models for bird use using linear regression and the Cp criterion to select the most parsimonious model. During the dry winter (2000–2001), dunlin exhibited greater use of sites with higher invertebrate density and biomass but also with more adjacent shorebird habitat and closest to a wetland neighbor. However, neither landscape context nor food abundance were important predictors of dunlin use during the wet winter (1999–2000). Use of sites by killdeer was unrelated to either local food abundance or landscape context measures during both winters. Our findings contribute to a growing recognition of the importance of landscape structure to wetland birds and highlight a number of implications for the spatial planning and enhancement of wetlands using a landscape approach.