Dustin Brewer

Ph.D. Candidate, Central Michigan University

2021 Field Travel Grant Type 1

A Description of King Rail Habitat Use in the Laurentian Great Lakes Region

“The King Rail (Rallus elegans) exemplifies a wetland dependent species which has, since the 1800s, markedly declined in abundance. Breeding Bird Surveys by the United States Geological Survey, albeit not ideal for monitoring marsh birds (Conway and Gibbs 2005), documented a decline in range-wide King Rail abundance by approximately 8% per year between 1966 and 2005 (Cooper 2008). Range-wide, the King Rail is listed as a ‘species of greatest conservation need’ in 30 states and, of these, is ‘threatened’ or ‘endangered’ in 12 states, all in the migratory range (Cooper 2008). Migratory King Rail breeding populations (interior populations, outside of the southeastern U.S.) appear to have been especially impacted by habitat loss and degradation, as suggested by numerous examples of local King Rail populations completely disappearing or of King Rail abundance being greatly reduced (Cooper 2008)…My research will help to identify habitat requirements of the King Rail, an important part of many wetland communities. The methodologies that I use could also be implemented to study other marsh bird species that are found in wetlands. Thus, my research will improve the ability of land managers to be effective, scientifically based stewards of wetland biodiversity.”