Lake Michigan Volunteer AMBLE
Avian Monitoring for Botulism Lakeshore Events
Bird mortality caused by ingestion of a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum has been periodically reported on the Great Lakes since the 1960s. Resurgence of avian botulism type E outbreaks since the late 1990s has brought renewed attention to this wildlife health issue.
The U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center, with help from many partners and support from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, has implemented “Lake Michigan Volunteer AMBLE – Avian Monitoring for Botulism Lakeshore Events.” The goal of AMBLE is to empower concerned citizens to monitor bird health and beach conditions along miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, thus increasing knowledge of avian botulism trends.
The focus area for the launch of AMBLE in 2011 was Door County, Wisconsin. And what a fantastic first year for a new citizen science program it was! Thank you to the 44 volunteers that invested their valuable time to collect weekly data on beach conditions and bird health. A total of 17.2 miles of Lake Michigan and Green Bay shoreline were monitored and 82 bird mortalities were reported.
Data collected on species, numbers, and timing of healthy, sick, and dead birds and environmental conditions are summarized on this website and made available to natural resource managers. Designated volunteers collect select carcasses for submission to the National Wildlife Health Center for botulism testing. AMBLE participants also help decrease botulism effects on wildlife along their beach by burying carcasses.
The AMBLE program will continue in Door County in 2012. And we are excited to announce the expansion of the volunteer network to the southern and western shores of Green Bay this year! We are looking for volunteers in these areas!
Training for volunteers will be provided free of charge by the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center staff. Information to be covered during training includes disease ecology of avian botulism (what causes it, which birds are affected, management recommendations), monitoring protocols, bird identification, and GPS use. Training sessions will be held in May and June and will take roughly half a day; volunteers need only to attend one session. See right sidebar on this website for updates on training session locations and times.
For more information, please contact:
USGS National Wildlife Health Center, Jenny Chipault, (608) 270-2473, AMBLE@usgs.gov