At Corkscrew and throughout Audubon, we strive to make choices about land management, policy, education and more based on sound science. Panther Island affords us a unique opportunity to look at unrestored (old agricultural fields) and restored habitat. On the unrestored sites, we are hoping to track how the population densities and species diversity of birds changes during the restoration process. How do we do accomplish that?
Former intern and avid birder and scientist Kate Halstead worked in conjunction with Dr. Shawn Liston, Audubon Florida's research manager for the southwestern region, to set up a scientifically rigorous monitoring program that would allow us to monitor species diversity, population densities, assess habitat preferences, and track trends and changes in these areas for birds at Corkscrew. At their most basic, point counts involve a series of points (or stations) where birds are observed and recorded for a fixed amount of time.
At PI, I have 7 routes (a series of points is a route) with 6 points in each. I visit these routes on a quarterly basis. At first, I admit I was intimidated by the process. It is alot of information to gather through sight and sound. But it is well worth it!
Tomorrow morning I will be doing the 2nd of my 7 routes, and despite the mosquitoes and trekking through marshes with gators and snakes, I look forward to and value these opportunities. Knowing what species of birds, insects, mammals, plants, etc. we have makes me a better land manager and scientist.
A trained volunteer verifying a bird using binoculars