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Habitat Survey Overview

In addition to providing data on marsh bird and amphibian presence and abundance, MMP volunteers also provide habitat descriptions at their survey stations. These data are necessary to help determine habitat associations of marsh birds and amphibians. For example, survey station habitat descriptions provided by MMP volunteers enabled MMP staff to determine that certain marsh-dependent bird species, such as Pied-billed Grebe and Common Moorhen, tend to be found in large, relatively undisturbed marshes. Habitat associations for threatened marsh bird and amphibian species are very important for effective wetland conservation, restoration, and management strategies throughout the Great Lakes basin.

To conduct habitat descriptions, volunteers:

  • Visit each of their monitoring stations, where a separate Habitat Description Form is completed for each station, once per year;
  • Conduct their habitat description during daylight hours, between approximately late May and mid-June when plants are readily identifiable, but are not so overgrown as to limit the surveyor?s view of the entire survey station;
  • Provide a general sketch of habitat characteristics within the survey station;
  • Estimate percent cover of:
    • Herbaceous emergent plants
    • Open water (and floating plants)
    • Trees
    • Shrubs 
    • Exposed mud, rock or sand
  • Estimate percent cover of the four dominant plant types that occur within the herbaceous emergent plant category.
  • Estimate marsh size, permanency and describe adjacent land use(s).

In Spring 2006, the Marsh Monitoring Program released the Marsh Habitat and Vegetation Guide. This guide, which features full-colour photographs and written descriptions of major marsh vegetation and habitat types, was designed to assist volunteers to conduct their MMP habitat descriptions.

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