Graduation Year


Graduation Month


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

School or Department

Wildlife Biology


Wildlife Biology – Terrestrial

Faculty Mentor Department

Wildlife Biology

Faculty Mentor

Victoria Dreitz


shrimp farms, waterbirds, pacific flyway, google earth engine

Subject Categories

Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology


Wintering and stopover areas provide crucial habitat for migratory birds yet are often understudied. The estuaries of Sonora and Sinaloa on the Gulf of California in Mexico provide critical wintering and stopover sites for migratory waterbirds in the Pacific Flyway. Shrimp farms are the greatest threat to these areas and their full impact is not well understood but they provide poor habitat for waterbirds. A significant portion of existing farms may be abandoned based on a disparity between active area reported by the Sonora and Sinaloa state commissions and observed area based on remote sensing. Abandoned farms represent potential area for restoration. This project seeks to understand the area abandoned to estimate area available for restoration. To quantify the area of shrimp farms I digitized and classified them by wetland characteristics using recent satellite imagery. I then used imagery from 1984 to present to determine when farms were constructed. I modeled monthly water extent in shrimp farms using spectral mixture analysis in Google Earth Engine. Shrimp farm area has increased steadily since 1990 with an average growth rate of 10% per year. Despite this increase, abandoned area has stayed stable at ~8% of total farm area. This level of abandonment means restoration will not be cost-effective, thus increasing the threat to waterbirds. If similar loss of wintering habitat occurs throughout the flyway, waterbird populations will be severely impacted. Promoting sustainable development and identifying sites where protection and restoration has the greatest effect will be necessary to maintain healthy waterbird populations in the future.

Honors College Research Project


GLI Capstone Project




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