Background information

Québec Marsh Monitoring Program

Bird Studies Canada, in partnership with Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service (Québec Region), launched the Marsh Monitoring Program (MMP) in Québec in 2004. The program provides long-term monitoring of marsh-dependent bird species across the province, and an extension of the Great Lakes MMP into the St. Lawrence River basin. The survey concentrates on eight focal species, the Pied-billed Grebe, American Bittern, Least Bittern, Yellow Rail, Virginia Rail, Sora, Common Gallinule and American Coot; however, information is collected on all birds using the marsh sites visited.

Between 150 and 200 stations are surveyed annually with the majority being situated in three Bird Conservation Regions (BCR): BCR12, the Boreal Hardwood Transition; BCR13, the Lower Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Plain; and BCR14, the Atlantic Northern Forest. Survey routes comprise one to eight 100-meter radius semi-circular survey stations dominated by emergent vegetation at least 350 meters apart. Two surveys are carried out annually by volunteers between May 27 and July 12, with an interval of at least 10 days between visits.

During the survey, the call playback technique is used to coax responses from six of the eight focal species. Each visit to each station lasts 15-minute and is sub-divided into three five-minute components: a passive (silent) survey period, a call playback period, and a second passive survey period. Routes are either surveyed in the morning or the evening. Habitat descriptions for each station are provided annually to map changes in vegetation patterns.

For the purpose of this website, abundance indices, based on counts of individuals per survey station, were derived for bird species in each survey year using a mixed-modelling Bayesian framework (e.g., each survey route had its own random intercept) to generate species-specific annual indices. Another model fit an overall linear trend for each species (e.g., to estimate the overall change per year over 15 years). Please visit the Marsh Monitoring Program in Québec website for more information.