Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Vilella, Francisco J.

Committee Member

Zhao, Meng

Committee Member

Kaminski, Richard M.

Committee Member

Davis, Brian J.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture

Degree Name

Master of Science


College of Forest Resources


Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture


The conversion of wetland systems to aquaculture provides alternate aquatic habitats for a variety of waterbirds. In response to the 2010 British Petroleum oil spill, the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) enacted the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative (MBHI) through which NRCS partnered with landowners to provide additional wetlands and associated foraging habitat for migrating waterbirds. During winters 2011–2013, I estimated abundances of waterbirds, seeds, and invertebrates in six production and idled aquaculture facilities in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. Wintering waterbirds exhibited similar densities on production (i.e., ~22 birds/ha) and idled (i.e., ~20 birds/ha) MBHI sites. My results suggest production and idled MBHI aquaculture impoundments produced suitable conditions for waterbirds in terms of food and habitat. I recommend future programs strive to enroll properties that promote an increased diversity of habitats in terms of vegetation structure, available forage, and varying water depth, with the aim of maximizing waterbird diversity.