Great Lakes Marsh Monitoring Program (MMP): Information 2013

The 2013 Marsh Monitoring Program survey season begins in early spring (March/April) and, ideally, everyone should be registered by late February. The program can accommodate late registrations but please register as soon as you are certain that you want to participate.

Volunteers monitor close to home and can survey amphibians, birds or both depending on the skill and time availability. Materials provided instruct people of route establishment and survey techniques. Novices can readily learn to identify calling frog and toads from the materials we provide but for bird surveys we ask they you are able to identify 50 common marsh species prior to attempting the surveys. On average it takes about 10 hours a year to survey, this is split between late March and early July. But, during the first season, more time is needed as you learn the techniques and set up the route.

Each MMP survey route consist of as few as 1 or up to as many as 8, semi-circular sample stations, each with a radius of 100-metres (110 yards). Sample stations must face areas of emergent marsh vegetation – small numbers of trees or shrubs can occur within the station but more than half of the area within the semi-circle must be dominated by non-woody, emergent plants such as cattail, bulrush, reed, grasses or sedges. Both the marsh bird and amphibian surveys are conducted facing into the marsh while standing at the centre of the 200-metre (220 yard) long semi-circle. Stations are usually accessed along the edge of marshes, on a dike or trail. However, volunteers interested in monitoring a route accessible only by boat or canoe are encouraged to do so. In very large marshes, it may be possible for several different stations to be established by one or more volunteers. In smaller, or less accessible marshes, it may be feasible to establish only 1 or 2 stations.

The 2012 Marsh Monitoring Program Route Map is available online. The map is color-coded for availability. If you are interested in surveying birds look at red and purple dots; if you are interested in surveying amphibians look at red and blue dots. Green and yellow dots are not available. Our priority is to assign new volunteers to existing routes but, if there are no routes near you, volunteers can establish a new route in an appropriate marsh near when they live.

On 10 February 2012 – Bird Studies Canada, through support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, hosted two free one-hour webinars on the volunteer-based “An Introduction to the Great Lakes Marsh Monitoring Program” (GLMMP) & “An In-depth Look at the Great Lakes Marsh Monitoring Program Field Protocol” and hopefully similar sessions will be held in March 2013. The webinars introduce attendees to the GLMMP, its goals, and its techniques and protocols. The in-depth webinar can also serve as a refresher for experienced program participants prior to the upcoming survey season.

Ask P. Harpley for further details.