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Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Wildlife and Fisheries Resources


We related Louisiana Waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla) demographic response and nest sur- vival to benthic macroinvertebrate aquatic prey and to shale gas development parameters using models that accounted for both spatial and non-spatial sources of variability in a Central Appala- chian USA watershed. In 2013, aquatic prey density and pollution intolerant genera (i.e., pollu- tion tolerance value <4) decreased statistically with increased waterthrush territory length but not in 2014 when territory densities were lower. In general, most demographic responses to aquatic prey were variable and negatively related to aquatic prey in 2013 but positively related in 2014. Competing aquatic prey covariate models to explain nest survival were not statistically significant but differed annually and in general reversed from negative to positive influence on daily survival rate. Potential hydraulic fracturing runoff decreased nest survival both years and was statistically significant in 2014. The EPA Rapid Bioassessment protocol (EPA) and Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) designed for assessing suitability requirements for waterthrush were posi- tively linked to aquatic prey where higher scores increased aquatic prey metrics, but EPA was more strongly linked than HSI and varied annually. While potential hydraulic fracturing runoff in 2013 may have increased Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera (EPT) richness, in 2014 shale gas territory disturbance decreased EPT richness. In 2014, intolerant genera decreased at the territory and nest level with increased shale gas disturbance suggesting the potential for localized negative effects on waterthrush. Loss of food resources does not seem directly or solely responsible for demographic declines where waterthrush likely were able to meet their foraging needs. However collective evidence suggests there may be a shale gas dis- turbance threshold at which waterthrush respond negatively to aquatic prey community changes. Density-dependent regulation of their ability to adapt to environmental change through acquisition of additional resources may also alter demographic response.

Source Citation

Citation: Frantz MW, Wood PB, Merovich GT, Jr (2018) Demographic characteristics of an avian predator, Louisiana Waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla), in response to its aquatic prey in a Central Appalachian USA watershed impacted by shale gas development. PLoS ONE 13(11): e0206077. pone.0206077


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