Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




Dr. Scott Petrie


The Least Bittern is a threatened species in Canada, with an estimated 1500 breeding pairs. I estimated relative abundance and determined habitat associations of Least Bitterns at Long Point, Lake Erie, Ontario. I conducted call-broadcast point counts during 2008 and 2009 with 96 and 197 individual Least Bitterns detected, respectively. I estimated 195 pairs of Least Bitterns at Long Point and 1434 pairs in coastal wetlands of the Canadian lower Great Lakes. Habitat assessments identified percent cover of Cattail and Bulrush, and number of dead Cattail stems as the best predictors of Least Bittern presence. Interspersion and percent cover of Cattail and Bulrush influenced relative abundance at the survey station scale. The estimated number of breeding pairs in Canada is potentially biased low. Point counts should be continued to increase our understanding of Least Bittern ecology. I recommend managing wetlands to increase the amount of Cattail and interspersion.



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