Cooperative Research Units
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Developing Optimal Survey Techniques for Monitoring Population Status of Rails, Snipe, Coots, and Gallinules


December 2008 - September 2010


1) determine the optimal timing for conducting surveys in each region of the country.
2) determine the optimal tide stage for conducting surveys within tidal systems.
3) determine whether regional call dialects influence the effectiveness of call-broadcast surveys.
These objectives directly address the primary research need for rails, galluniles, and coots for the
Atlantic and Central Flyways and the Webless Species in General lists developed by the Webless
Migratory Game Bird Program: "Develop survey techniques to monitor population status". This
project also addresses research needs described in Tacha and Braun (1994). Virtually all
chapters of the book "Management of Migratory Shore and Upland Game Birds in North
America" cited the need for a national monitoring program to estimate status and trends of rails,
moorhens, and gallinules (Tacha and Braun 1994). Moreover, the need for special development
of methods to monitor secretive marsh birds is identified as a priority in the North American
Waterbird Conservation Plan (NAWCP), a continental framework for conservation of waterbird
species embraced by the USFWS and other partners in the Waterbird Conservation for the
Americas initiative. Standardizing and encouraging the monitoring of secretive marsh birds is
also listed as one of the key recommendations made in the National Wildlife Refuge System's
Fulfilling the Promise document. The USGS Status and Trends Program stresses the need for
long-term monitoring efforts that estimate trends in abundance using standardized methods at
regular intervals. And finally, 2 workshops held at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (in 1999
and 2006) brought together approximately 50 researchers and managers with interest in marsh
birds to move forward on developing a marsh bird monitoring program that would provide
rigorous data with which to determine status and trends of rails, snipe, gallinules, and coots
(Ribic et al. 1999, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2006).


Current Staff

Federal Staff: 95

Masters Students: 238

Phd Students: 144

Post Docs: 54

University Staff: 239

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 673

Scientific Publications: 1905

Presentations: 4235



Funding Agencies

  • USFWS Region 2

Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey