Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies


Coastal and Marine Systems Science

First Advisor

Christopher E. Hill

Second Advisor

Craig Gilman

Third Advisor

Kevin S. Godwin


Salt marshes, which are threatened by sea level rise and development, provide habitat for a distinctive suite of specialized vertebrates, and knowledge of the life histories of salt marsh specialists may help preserve salt marsh fauna in the face of change. I studied wintering site fidelity of Seaside (Ammodramus maritimus), Saltmarsh (A. caudacutus) and Nelson's (A. nelsoni) Sparrows by mist-netting and banding birds at six sites in two salt marshes in South Carolina. I banded 261 sparrows over two winters, 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, and recaptured 92. Across-year return rates were high, but significantly different across species: 43% for Seaside, 63% for Saltmarsh, and 14% for Nelson's Sparrows. Ninety-one sparrows were recaptured at their original banding site, but only one individual moved between banding sites (420m). Relative abundance of the three species varied between marshes and across banding sites within North Inlet marsh. These results indicate that these sparrows are very site faithful, which may make individuals especially vulnerable to habitat change.

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