Within the Mississippi River Alluvial Basin, the Otter Slough Conservation Area IBA represents a remnant of what historically occupied this Ecological Section, namely bottomland forest, marsh, and swamps. Nearly all of these habitats outside this IBA have been converted to cropland. The 20-acre area of Otter Slough Natural Area (NA) (Missouri Department of Conservation [MDC]) contains a high quality fragment of tupelo swamp. This is a rare example of the once far more common tupelo swamps in the Mississippi River Alluvial basin. Most (88%) percent of the Otter Slough IBA is in publicly owned conservation land (Otter Slough Conservation Area [CA] and NA 4,809; 1,947 ha) managed by MDC.

Ornithological Summary

Bald Eagles have nested on the Otter Slough Conservation Area IBA. Over 100,000 Snow Geese were detected during the 2005 MDC midwinter waterfowl survey, in addition to approximately 7100 Greater White-fronted Geese and over 46,000 mixed dabbling ducks. Otter Slough IBA provides tremendous wetland habitats for breeding and migratory wetland birds. Prothonotary Warblers may be observed during the breeding season, in addition to transient southern species, like Anhinga (Palmer and Palmer 2001).

Conservation Issues

Otter Slough Conservation Area IBA is a remnant complex of swamp forest and marsh embedded in the vast cropland matrix that characterizes the Mississippi Alluvial Basin. Thus, it has obvious value as a wetland refuge for migrating and breeding waterbirds in the region. Swamp reforestation could be considered for deforested portions of Otter Slough CA. MDC manages flooded cropland for duck forage. Wetland habitat restoration could be promoted in the smaller private landholding in the IBA.

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