Evaluation of the Ohio rapid assessment method for wetlands in the western Great Lakes: An analysis using bird communities
Anna, C.P.; Gerald, J.N.
Journal of Great Lakes Research 33(supp-S3): 280-291
Rapid assessments are used as qualitative approaches to evaluate wetland quality in the absence of quantitative data and adequate time to assess wetland structure and function. To examine how rapid assessment methods assess bird assemblages in wetlands, we compared bird communities with both the Ohio Rapid Assessment Method (ORAM) and detailed data gathered from 51 coastal riverine wetlands in the western Great Lakes region. We found that birds did not choose wetlands at random but responded to vegetative structure and the degree of anthropogenic disturbance within and surrounding the wetland. ORAM scores adequately reflected the degree of anthropogenic disturbance affecting the wetlands but were insufficient to explain bird species richness or the abundance of several bird species that were obligates of these wetlands. Bird assemblages in the western Great Lakes region spanned a wider range of wetland conditions than were reflected in the ORAM scores. Modification of ORAM scores with a focus on submetrics related to anthropogenic disturbance and vegetative structure improved the ability of ORAM to reflect conditions important to wetland birds. ORAM could be improved for use in the western Great Lakes with a greater emphasis on the landscape context and anthropogenic disturbance of the wetland.