Bird Use of an Evaporation Basin and a Mitigation Wetland

by Andrew G. Gordus,
Jeff Seay,
Scott B. Terrill,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: North American Water and Environment Congress & Destructive Water


A 58-ha freshwater wetland was constructed to mitigate for decreased avian reproductive success and survivorship caused by a 296-ha selenium contaminated evaporation basin. To decrease the attractiveness of the evaporation basin to waterbirds, two cells (29 ha) have been re-configured (steeper banks, level bottom, and increased depth). Waterbird densities at the traditional evaporation basin, the re configured basin, and the freshwater wetland were compared across two years of data collection. Densities at the evaporation basin during the critical breeding season were significantly lower (P < 0.05) than densities at the freshwater wetland. Densities at the freshwater wetland during the spring and fall migrations were significantly higher (P < 0.05) than densities at the evaporation basin during all four seasons. During the winter, densities were not significantly different (P > 0.05) between the three sites. The evaporation basin and freshwater wetland attracted shorebirds and dabbling waterfowl, whereas, the re-configured pond primarily attracted American Coots (Fulica americana) and Ruddy Ducks (Oxyura jamaicensis). Overall, these results indicate that hazing and re-configuration of basins combined with providing freshwater wetlands designed for wildlife can be quite successful in avoiding, reducing and mitigating impacts of agricultural evaporation basin operation, especially during the critical breeding season.

Subject Headings: Basins | Evaporation | Wetlands (fresh water) | Mitigation and remediation | Fresh water | Birds | Wetlands (coastal) | Seasonal variations

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