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Birds of Nice Salt Lake’s South Arm Ecosystem Threatened


    For the second yr 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 ends in greater focus of salts. Whereas organisms of Nice Salt Lake’s South Arm Ecosystem (Gilbert Bay) have developed to tolerate greater ranges of salinity than most, they do have limits. As an illustration, brine fly larvae and brine shrimp, and their fundamental 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 sources. Quite a few chicken species will opportunistically feed on numerous life phases of brine flies and brine shrimp, however what chicken species closely depend on these briny macroinvertebrates? What’s their degree 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 chicken consultants to reply these questions. The companions recognized seven chicken species, and utilizing each printed and unpublished scientific literature, created abstract tables targeted on their populations, timing, meals sources, and habitat preferences throughout their time at Nice Salt Lake. The species embody:

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

    Moreover, for 3 of those species that rely probably the most on brine flies and brine shrimp—Eared Grebes, Wilson’s Phalaropes, and Pink-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 vitality reserves feeding primarily on brine shrimp. Throughout this time, their flight muscle mass atrophy leaving them flightless. This lack of the aptitude to fly makes Eared Grebes particularly susceptible to altering environmental circumstances, significantly if there are modifications in brine shrimp densities or their dietary worth can not present correct sustenance to the grebes. Some 33-40% of the worldwide inhabitants of Wilson’s Phalaropes come to Nice Salt Lake every year, peaking in July in August, primarily to feed on numerous life phases 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 will not be 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 study extra about these species, you may take a look at the hyperlinks to those paperwork under.