Publication Date

Fall 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Studies


Lynne Trulio; Rachel O’Malley; Karine Tokatlian


Shorebird populations are declining worldwide due to habitat fragmentation, degradation, and loss. A potential, understudied set of resources that might be used to benefit waterfowl, especially breeding shorebirds, are artificial wetlands such as stormwater retention basins. This study evaluated the habitat value of stormwater retention basins in the San Francisco Bay Area by measuring species abundance, richness, and behavior. Seston, or biota and other suspended material, was collected and tested for mercury contents. Additionally, the habitat features within each basin were recorded and tracked for changes over a year. The stormwater retention basins supported a higher diversity of bird species than the adjacent managed Alviso Ponds. Coast Casey and Nob Hill Pond, the basins with more habitat variability and temporal stability, supported higher species richness and diversity for resident, migratory, and breeding waterfowl. In particular, wetland indicator species such as Eared Grebes, and the Ridgeway’s rail and other rail species were observed. Multiple species were observed successfully rearing chicks, including heron, grebe, and shorebird species. Basins do contain elevated amounts of mercury, and more information is needed to assess risks to waterfowl. Existing stormwater retention basins can be tailored to provide the habitat characteristics most attractive to breeding and nonbreeding birds, further creating needed habitat.