Publication Date



The U.S. Department of Defense supports nearly 9,000 ha of tidal marsh habitat within installation in the mid-Atlantic region that is important for many marsh bird species that are declining and of conservation concern. Because of the broad dissemination of installations within the region, marshes controlled by the DoD exist across a wide range of salnity zones and other conditions that influence marsh bird abundance and distribution. Improving the DoD’s capacity to manage marsh bird populations can only move forward through a broad scale assessment to determine the status of this valuable resource so management priorities can be developed. However, direct assessment of DoD marsh birds through field surveys and inventory are not always possible because many of the marsh habitats on military lands are restricted from access due to prior training with incendiary devices and unexploded ordinance. To compensate for this difficulty, this report was inventory tidal marshes of DoD installations and to generate a profile of the tidal marsh bird communities by assembling the best information available and making projections. Tidal marsh habitats were delineated and mapped at the patch level to inventory the abundance of freshwater/brackish marshes and salt marshes across DoD installations. Population estimates of selected species of marsh birds were projected across installations based on species’ habitat requirements for salinity, vegetation, and patch size. DoD installations appear to support large population of marsh bird species such as the Clapper Rail, Virginia Rail, King Rail, and Marsh Wren. Other species of importance include the Willet, Northern Harrier, Seaside Sparrow, Coastal Plain Swamp Sparrow, and Saltmarsh Sparrow. Tidal marsh birds and their habitats in the mid-Atlantic region are highly vulnerable to the negative effects of sea-level rise, invasive species, development, and certain management practices. Installations that support species of highest concern should be considered top priority for management, monitoring, and research.


Abundance/Distribution; Habitat Quality/Use/Movement




The Center for Conservation Biology Technical Report Series, CCBTR-13-04. College of William and Mary & Virginia Commonwealth University, Williamsburg, VA.