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Hardwood Transition / Lower Great Lakes – More Information

Background information on DU's Hardwood Transition / Lower Great Lakes / St. Lawrence Plain - Ontario conservation priority area
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GLSL coastal wetlands are of greatest importance in terms of their value to waterfowl during spring and fall migrations and of relatively minor importance to waterfowl production in comparison. The spring and fall migrations consist of large numbers of diving ducks, sea ducks, dabbling ducks, Canada geese, tundra swans, and coots. A conservative estimate of 2M dabbling ducks migrate through the GLSL most of which are mallards, blue and green winged teal, wood ducks, black ducks, and American wigeon. The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River are also important to many species of diving ducks during migration. This results from the region’s fertility and a mild climate paired with strong water currents, which promotes an unusually long ice-free period. These conditions commonly favor an extended staging period with some species actually over wintering on the Great Lakes. Continentally significant numbers of canvasback, redhead, scaup and ring necked ducks also utilize the Basin enroute along the Atlantic and Mississippi flyways. Dennis et al. (1987) and Ross (1989) collected the most comprehensive data on fall and spring migration for the CWS. Prince et al. (1992) compiled and reported waterfowl migration values for the Great Lakes basin in terms of waterfowl use days. Based on CWS survey data, key migration habitats include the Lake Erie Long Point marshes, Lake St. Clair marshes, Prince Edward County marshes and wetland habitats along the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers. Other significant coastal and inland staging habitats may exist, but currently little or no waterfowl information has been collected. Likewise, data on the importance of coastal habitats to other wetland dependent wildlife, although acknowledged as being significant, is poorly understood.

Goals

  • Meet the nutritional, social and time requirements of diving duck species, at NAWMP population goal levels, on coastal habitats in fall and spring.
  • Maintain the existing quantity and quality of coastal wetland habitats traditionally relied on by diving ducks in Ontario’s coastal landscape.
  • Meet the nutritional, social and time requirements of dabbling duck species, at NAWMP population goal levels, and at anticipated increases in breeding dabbling duck populations within Ontario.
  • Maintain the quantity and quality of wetland and associated agricultural habitats now available to migrating dabbling ducks.
  • Increase the amount of spring migration habitat to a level that supports increased breeding population objectives in Ontario.
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