Birds of Nice Salt Lake’s South Arm Ecosystem Threatened

For the second 12 months in a row, Nice Salt Lake reached new historic low ranges. The lake receives its water from a number of rivers and precipitation, however as long-term drought, growing water utilization, and the fact of local weather change set in, much less water is coming to Nice Salt Lake. This leads to increased focus of salts. Whereas organisms of Nice Salt Lake’s South Arm Ecosystem (Gilbert Bay) have advanced to tolerate increased ranges of salinity than most, they do have limits. As an example, brine fly larvae and brine shrimp, and their most important sources of meals—microbial mats and their algae and micro organism are approaching – and even reaching – salinity thresholds.

Whereas Utah actively works on options to get extra water to Nice Salt Lake and stabilize salinity ranges, the conservation group, state businesses and stakeholders are beginning to consider the potential implications to the migratory birds that depend on this ecosystem and its meals assets. Quite a few fowl species will opportunistically feed on varied life levels of brine flies and brine shrimp, however what fowl species closely depend on these briny macroinvertebrates? What’s their stage of reliance? What proportion of their populations are current at Nice Salt Lake, and when?

Nationwide Audubon Society’s Saline Lakes Program, in partnership with the Utah Division of Wildlife Assets’ Nice Salt Lake Ecosystem Program, labored with regional fowl specialists to reply these questions. The companions recognized seven fowl species, and utilizing each revealed and unpublished scientific literature, created abstract tables centered on their populations, timing, meals assets, and habitat preferences throughout their time at Nice Salt Lake. The species embrace:

  • Wilson’s Phalarope
  • Crimson-necked Phalarope
  • Eared Grebe
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Inexperienced-winged Teal
  • Widespread Goldeneye
  • California Gull

Moreover, for 3 of those species that rely essentially the most on brine flies and brine shrimp—Eared Grebes, Wilson’s Phalaropes, and Crimson-necked Phalaropes—we created extra in-depth species profiles to spotlight every.

You will need to perceive the essential significance of Nice Salt Lake to Eared Grebes and Wilson’s Phalaropes. Traditionally, Nice Salt Lake hosted 50-95% of the North American inhabitants of Eared Grebes. Whereas they go to Nice Salt Lake every fall by the tens of millions, grownup birds will spend 3 to five months molting their feathers and constructing power reserves feeding primarily on brine shrimp. Throughout this time, their flight muscle tissues atrophy leaving them flightless. This lack of the aptitude to fly makes Eared Grebes particularly susceptible to altering environmental situations, notably if there are adjustments in brine shrimp densities or their dietary worth can’t present correct sustenance to the grebes. Some 33-40% of the worldwide inhabitants of Wilson’s Phalaropes come to Nice Salt Lake annually, peaking in July in August, primarily to feed on varied life levels of brine flies. Whereas they aren’t fairly as susceptible as Eared Grebes, each these species are extremely depending on wholesome populations of brine flies and brine shrimp. What occurs if the brine flies and shrimp are usually not right here when the grebes and phalaropes arrive?

Audubon and its companions are actively engaged in exploring alternatives, knowledge gaps and analysis wants to make sure the long run well being of Nice Salt Lake’s ecosystem and the birds that depend on it.

If you need to be taught extra about these species, you may try the hyperlinks to those paperwork beneath.

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