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The Salton Sea is critically important for wintering and breeding waterbirds, but faces an uncertain future due to water delivery reductions imposed by the Interstate and Federal Quantification Settlement Agreement of 2003. The current preferred alternative for wetland restoration at the Salton Sea is saline habitat impoundments created to mitigate the anticipated loss of wetland habitat. In 2006, a 50-hectare experimental complex that consisted of four inter-connected, shallow water saline habitat ponds (SHP) was constructed at the southeastern shoreline of the Salton Sea and flooded with blended waters from the Alamo River and Salton Sea. The present study evaluated ecological risks and benefits of the SHP concept prior to widespread restoration actions. This study was designed to evaluate (1) baseline chemical, nutrient, and contaminant measures from physical and biological constituents, (2) aquatic invertebrate community structure and colonization patterns, and (3) productivity of and contaminant risks to nesting waterbirds at the SHP. These factors were evaluated and compared with those of nearby waterbird habitat, that is, reference sites.
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