Shorebird Habitat Restoration

Full Title: Restoring coastal wetlands for shorebirds: Leveraging lessons learned to identify research priorities and strategies to maximize future success

This project will develop a research and application plan to incorporate elevation profiles into restoration projects to enhance shorebird habitat in the Salt Bayou ecosystem on the upper Texas coast.

Lead Investigator: Anna R. Armitage, Texas A&M University at Galveston, armitaga@tamug.edu

Natural Resource Manager: Stephen McDowell, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area

Federal Program Officer/Point of Contact: Frank Parker (frank.parker@noaa.gov)

Award Amount: $122,346 

Award Period: This project began in September 2021 and will end in August 2022.

Why it matters: Shorebird selection of restored habitat for foraging or roosting is closely linked to fine-scale elevation features, such shallow pools or mudflats. Integrating small-scale elevation variability into restoration site design may enhance shorebird use. The central natural resource management question addressed in this project is: How can elevation profiles of coastal wetland restoration projects be designed to enhance shorebird habitat? The Salt Bayou ecosystem in Texas encompasses numerous past, current, and potential future wetland restoration projects. The project team will synthesize lessons learned from past projects and develop a blueprint to guide future research directions and boost the success of future investments. 

What the team is doing: A postdoctoral research associate will summarize current data on shorebird use of coastal restoration projects in the Salt Bayou region and will conduct a literature review assessing links between restoration approach, elevation profiles, and shorebird use across the Gulf of Mexico. Based on those findings, a research and application plan to guide future research and restoration design will be developed. A series of workshops will focus on the co-production of knowledge by engaging stakeholders and restoration practitioners in discussions about future research needs. 

Expected outcome: The outcome of this research will be a set of specific research needs and goals that will help shape the where, how, and why of future coastal wetland restoration projects in the region. Dissemination activities will include publications and a conference presentation.