Gulf Coast Wetlands: Continentally Important
Waterfowl Band Recoveries
The impact of the oil released as a result of the Deepwater Horizon explosion has obvious implications for residents – both wildlife and people – who rely on Gulf Coast wetlands for their livelihood. What may not be as apparent, however, is the continental significance of this coastal landscape for waterfowl.
Migratory waterfowl provide one example of the continental scale at which impacts could be felt. Among the more than 13 million ducks and 1.5 million geese that use this coastal landscape in some years are more than 20 species of ducks and geese that nest from Alaska to Nova Scotia and from the Pacific Northwest to the Great Lakes and migrate to use Gulf Coast wetlands during the winter.
A large number of waterfowl are marked each year with metal legbands, and banded birds harvested and reported by hunters have provided biologists with a wealth of information about migration patterns, birds’ longevity, and rates of mortality and survival. As this map illustrates, these data also provide specific insights into where birds that use the Gulf Coast originate before they begin what can be more than a 3,000-mile journey to their wintering grounds. The international scale is evident in that every province and territory in Canada is represented by banded ducks recovered in the portion of the Gulf potentially affected by the oil spill.
More Oil Spill Resources:
Oil Spill Resource Center
Oil spill Q&A
Oil spill video library
Board of directors' resolution
Gulf Coast Joint Venture study: Marshes losing ability to support waterfowl
Gulf Coast facts & figures
DU's Gulf Coastal Prairie Initiative
Dr. Tom Moorman's Gulf Coast letter
Louisiana Coast: Here today, gone tomorrow