Audubon Convention 2017
The poster session submission is closed. We are excited to have reached our maximum capacity of 25 fascinating posters.
The following posters will be displayed throughout the Welcome Reception on Friday, July 14th.
Providing a Baseline for Monitoring Change – The Bear Creek Watershed Breeding Bird Atlas
The Bear Creek Watershed extends from Summit Lake to the confluence of Bear Creek and the South Platte River and crosses an elevation gradient of 8,500 feet. Accordingly, the watershed supports a diversity of vegetation communities and corresponding bird assemblages. To date, 317 species of birds have been recorded within the Bear Creek Watershed. There are more than 58,000 acres of public lands in the watershed, which are managed by several public agencies. In 2008, Evergreen Audubon initiated the Bear Creek Watershed Breeding Bird Atlas (Bear Creek Atlas). The purpose of the Bear Creek Atlas is to provide information on bird distribution, abundance, breeding status, and habitat use on public lands within the Bear Creek Watershed. Information from these surveys is provided to the appropriate federal, state, county, and local land management agencies to inform their management decisions and will provide a baseline to evaluate elevational bird distribution shifts due to climate change. Information collected in this project also helps to inform conservation decisions considered by Evergreen Audubon and is used for educational purposes in the Evergreen Nature Center. To our knowledge, this is the first watershed-scale breeding bird atlas in the nation.
- Brad Andres, Vice President, Evergreen Audubon Society
Birmingham Audubon Citizen Science Corps
Birmingham Audubon established a new program in 2016 that provides an avenue to participants to dig deeper into citizen science. The purpose of the Birmingham Audubon Citizen Science Corps is to foster an excitement in members to contribute consistent, reliable data to local, national, and international conservation projects. We have regular conversations about the mechanics of science and experiences in our chosen projects. Member benefits include interactions with the scientists that are leading the citizen science projects as well as field trip opportunities to view state and regional biodiversity. Members are required to participate in five citizen science projects a year, and any conservation projects are eligible. Through participating in this program, these citizen scientists not only collect much needed scientific data, but they also serve as conservation ambassadors within their personal network.
- Andrew Coleman, Program and Science Director, Birmingham Audubon Society
Great Salt Lake Bird Festival
The Great Salt Lake Bird Festival is headed into its 20th year. This Festival is an asset to the greater Salt Lake Community by spotlighting the historic Great Salt Lake and its ecosystem, the local Important Bird Areas, birds in the Wasatch Mountains, and urban birding locations. The Festival partners with several local Audubon Chapters and many members serve as Festival guides for field trips. Well-known birders from all over the nation have come to Utah to speak at the Festival and to provide workshops for attendees. The Festival also partners with many private land owners, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and Utah State Parks and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with personnel and access to birding areas. Festival programming offers many free activities for families and youth to encourage their interest in birding and conservation. The Festival has often focused on Birding as Families. Many educational booths cover outdoor skills, equipment, and live birds. Topics for workshops include specific information about birds and their habitats, skills such as birding by ear, migration, projects around Great Salt Lake, Citizen Science, photography, other animals, and many trending topics (such as the lake level, causeway breach, access). One of our successful partnerships involves the drivers of our field trip vans. The drivers are volunteers with the Dedicated Hunter program with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. They are hunters. The first year they drove birders around to look at birds I heard many positive comments about how they had never noticed birds before; then they started bringing their own binoculars; then they started listening to the guides and enjoying this new knowledge. This continues to be a very positive cross learning for our hunters and birders.
- Neka Roundy, Community Development Specialist & Festival Organizer, Great Salt Lake Audubon Society
- Heather Dove, President, Great Salt Lake Audubon Society
Basin & Range Seminar Educates While Elevating Great Salt Lake Audubon’s Reputation
Over the last 35 years, Great Salt Lake Audubon has educated our members and non-members about the unique Utah environment that sustains us by hosting an annual Basin & Range weekend seminar. B&R was modeled after the Tucson Audubon Society’s Institute of Desert Ecology. The first B&R seminar was held in 1982 in the Stansbury Mountains west of Salt Lake City. Originally organized by Rick Van Wagenen and Vaughn Lovejoy, the seminar purpose and structure remains true to the initial design: invite people to camp in the basins and ranges within and adjacent to the Great Basin, offer classes that illuminate the relationships between plants, animals, humans and the landscape, and have fun doing it! Held over a Spring weekend, participants accompany instructors for three three-hour classes (two on Saturday and one on Sunday), contribute to an amazing Saturday potluck dinner and enjoy an evening program under the stars. Our distinguished faculty include University professors, agency professionals, published authors, artists and talented lay folks. Birding is the most popular activity, but plants, mammals, snakes, reptiles, insects, geology, ecology, cultural history, nature photography and more have been offered. B&R coordinators work with local, state and national landholders to reserve group sites that can accommodate about 50 participants and 6-10 instructors. Most attendees tent-camp, and depending on the site, there may be hookups for camper vans. Over the years, B&R has been held at 19 locations, including two sites in Nevada. While our primary purpose in offering B&R is to educate, we have developed strong working relationships with people and agencies who have a similar mission to our own; that is to protect and enhance habitat for wild birds, animals and plants, and to maintain healthy environments. This has served to strengthen GSLA’s reputation throughout the state.
- Jeanne Le Ber, Basin & Range Coordinator, Great Salt Lake Audubon Society
Tracy Aviary’s Citizen Science Program: Avian Research and Conservation Across the Salt Lake County Watershed
Although heavily impacted by human uses and historic disturbances, riparian areas are important components of Salt Lake County’s urban mosaic, and they provide benefits to both human and animal inhabitants. Multiple streams, creeks, and the Jordan River supply resources, ecosystem services, recreational opportunities, and access to natural spaces for Salt Lake County residents, and these waterbodies also yield critical habitat for urban bird communities. Since 2011, Tracy Aviary has developed and implemented a series of citizen science avian research and monitoring projects throughout Salt Lake County. We work throughout the watershed, from the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon, through the heart of downtown, and along the Jordan River. Our breeding bird survey program trains dedicated citizen scientists to conduct surveys at 10 project sites. Patterns of bird occurrence, distribution, and community composition can serve as important indicators of watershed quality and overall ecosystem health, and the breeding bird survey data we have collected over the years have increased our understanding of local avian ecology and informed habitat restoration and management activities. We recently added two projects that engage a more diverse audience and address emerging conservation issues in the watershed. With field trips offered in both Spanish and English, Project Broadtail brings a diverse audience on survey hikes in Salt Lake’s seven neighboring canyons to monitor Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, a species whose population has declined by over 50% in the last 50 years. The Salt Lake Avian Collision Survey (SLACS) is a research initiative designed to understand and mitigate the effects of Salt Lake City’s light pollution on migrating birds. Tracy Aviary’s conservation science program collects data to guide local stewardship, and directly engages citizens and informs the community about the ecological importance of birds, growing a foundation of support for avian conservation in Salt Lake.
- Cooper Farr, Conservation Scientist, Great Salt Lake Audubon Society
Introducing the Conservation Tracker!
In the 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, science was identified as one of four pillars supporting Audubon’s work. We are committed to using high-quality science to make an impact at the broad scales necessary to confront the myriad threats to birds throughout their lifecycle. However, due to Audubon’s distributed structure, and the long history of independently operated state offices and chapters, we are currently limited in our ability to conduct research that allows us to draw inferences at regional, national, and flyway scales. The 2011 Strategic Plan clearly acknowledged this weakness and called for a new paradigm – ‘One Audubon’ in practice, not just rhetoric. Although progress has been made toward alignment of goals, the current strategic plan focuses on the next step- integration. The lack of technical infrastructure and standardization required to achieve true integration is a major challenge. Without it, we cannot capitalize on the power of our expansive network to build the scientific foundation required to support full-lifecycle conservation. Further, we have no monitoring and evaluation system in place to assess the success of our programs within and across political boundaries. To promote transparency, accountability, and an adaptive approach to landscape-scale conservation, we need to track key metrics that are standardized across the network. In an effort to address these shortcomings and ‘build our authority as a science-led thought leader’, the Science Division is developing the Conservation Tracker (CT). The CT is a cutting-edge, data-driven system for standardizing, measuring, and reporting Audubon’s progress against conservation goals. It will enable us to: advance the One Audubon vision, track conservation successes and failures, make informed investment decisions and nimble course corrections, test new ideas, evaluate organizational performance, efficiently report biological impacts at scales from local to hemispheric, and inform donors about the return on their investments.
- Joanna Grand, Spatial Ecologist, National Audubon Society
- Gregg Verutes, Data Visualization Specialist, National Audubon Society
Protecting Public Lands with Community Science
Washington’s Sagebrush Songbird Survey is among the largest and most successful multi-chapter community science programs in the county. Since 2014, volunteer leaders have been collecting presence-absence data on sagebrush obligate songbird species across 1,000,000 acres in Eastern Washington. Some of the surveys have taken place on key pieces of land under consideration for long-term conservation status such as the central lands of the Hanford Reach National Monument. Preliminary data suggests there are areas of high value habitat for sagebrush obligate songbird species on Central Hanford lands. This information is useful in advocating for the protection of public lands – the status of Hanford National Monument is currently under review by the federal government – and for future management decisions regarding the number of contiguous acres under long-term conservation.
- Dana Ward, Conservation Chair, Lower Columbia Basin Audubon Society
- Barb and Tom Clarke, Education Chair, Lower Columbia Basin Audubon Society
- Christi Norman, Program Director, Audubon Washington
New Roots Program: Engaging Refugee & Immigrated Youth in Nature
Golden Eagle Audubon Society’s ‘New Roots Program’ (NRP) was created in 2014 with the support of National Audubon Society’s ‘TogetherGreen’ Fellowship program. During the first four years of this unique program, we have reached over 55 youth from around the globe and spent over 3,000 hours experiencing a place-based environmental education program that cultivates connections with the community through stewardship activities. The NRP is a two-week long summer camp taking daily field trips to locations throughout the Treasure Valley, including a variety of our public lands. A primary goal of the NRP is to introduce participants to the diversity of the environment in and around their new homes, creating a positive experience for these youth to become active participants in conservation. The NRP is a highly collaborative program supported annually by more than a dozen nonprofits, agencies, and educational institutions. Our partnerships allow natural resource professionals to connect and teach the NRP participants about STEM careers and their areas of expertise including botany, ornithology, entomology, hydrology, and more. We strive to make the NRP a holistic experience and incorporate elements of restoration, citizen science, arts, and games into part of our daily activities. We have found the NRP to be a rewarding experience for the participants, volunteers, program leaders, and agency personnel and have a high level of community support for the program. We believe this is pivotal for the long-term sustainability of a program that is offered cost-free to participants and also provides door-to-door transportation.
- Liz Urban, President & Program Coordinator, Golden Eagle Audubon Society
An Audubon Archipelago in Maine: Seven Seabird Islands and an Education Island
Highlights of the Hog Island Audubon Camp – nature and ornithology-based programming for adults, families, and teens. Research and conservation taking place on 7 Maine seabird islands. Eastern Egg Rock is the island where the first restored Atlantic Puffin colony is located, home to seabird restoration.
- Stephen W. Kress, Executive Director, Audubon Seabird Restoration Program
- Susan Schubel, National Audubon Society
Halophiles and Biogeography
To explain the vast diversity of microorganisms and their overlapping geographic distributions, Baas Becking famously postulated that “everything is everywhere, but the environment selects.” Recent studies have disputed this idea and suggest other mechanisms of distribution. Halophilic archaea inhabit hypersaline ecosystems all around our planet, and they are highly adapted to desiccating conditions, surviving in salt crystals over long time periods. Genetically similar strains have been found in locales that are geographically isolated from one another. Since small salt crystals could be carried on bird feathers, we suspected that birds were the driving force of these distributions through their migration patterns. We collected salt from the shores of the north arm of Great Salt Lake (GSL), then isolated microorganisms from the salt. A large percentage of the isolated archaea were of the Halorubrum genus. We sequenced and amplified the 16S RNA gene from each strain, and compared our GSL samples to those found in the GenBank database. There were twenty-seven unique GenBank matches with other Halorubrum strains found at other sites on the Earth. To evaluate the hypothesis that nearly identical Halorubrum strains exist in salty sites around the globe due to “hitchhiking” on the exterior of birds, we compared these sites against different bird migration patterns that included GSL as a stop-over. This comparison resulted in twenty-six viable bird populations that could be attributed to the distribution of these Halorubrum strains. In particular, we are concerned with an American White Pelican colony, which lives on Gunnison Island in the north arm of Great Salt Lake, from which our microorganisms were isolated.
- Adam Wolford, Student, Westminster College
- Bex Kemp, Student, Westminster College
- Bonnie Baxter, Professor, Westminster College
The Bahamas: Home away from Home for North American Shorebirds
The Bahaman archipelago consists of more than 700 islands, cays, and islets in the Atlantic Ocean and is located north of Cuba and Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic); northwest of the Turks and Caicos Islands; southeast of the US state of Florida and east of the Florida Keys. The islands provide wintering habitat for the endangered Piping Plover, Red Knots, Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper and other migratory shorebirds. Up until 2006 no more than 40 Piping Plovers had been sighted during in the International Piping Plover Census which is conducted every 5 years, however in 2006, 417 Piping Plovers were observed and in 2011, 1,066 Piping Plovers were discovered. After the 2011 discovery, National Audubon and the Canadian Wildlife Service partnered to survey the Joulter Cays and the Berry Islands and discovered that nearly 9 % of the global breeding population of Piping Plovers rests there each winter along with more than dozen other species of birds. This data along with a national media campaign contributed to the 92,000 acre Joulter Cays being protected as a new national park in August of 2015. Working with National Audubon, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Canadian Wildlife Service, the Disney Foundation, NMBCA and other organizations, the Bahamas National Trust is continuing to assist with Shorebirds Surveys, advocating for formal protection for IBAS and developing education and outreach to create awareness of the importance of The Bahamas for shorebird populations.
- Lynn Gape, Deputy Executive Director, Bahamas National Trust
- Scott Johnson, Avian Science Officer, Bahamas National Trust
- Walker Golder, Deputy Director, Audubon North Carolina
- Matthew Jeffery, Deputy Director, International Alliances Program, National Audubon Society
A Disastrous Diversion: How the Proposed Bear River Development Project Would Dry Up International Migratory Bird Habitat
The Great Salt Lake is the West’s largest remaining wetland ecosystem, providing critical habitat for 6-8 million birds across 250 species traveling from every country in the Americas. The largest river feeding the Great Salt Lake is the Bear River, which provides nearly 60% of the surface water inflow to the Lake each year. Proposed Bear River Development would divert over 20% of the Bear River’s annual flows to provide more municipal water to the Wasatch Front. This will lower the Lake’s elevation several feet, dry up tens of thousands of wetland acres, alter the Lake’s salinity levels, and impact the lifecycles of the brine shrimp, brine flies, midges and other invertebrates that are a critical food source for millions of birds. In addition, one of the five dam sites being considered as part of this development project lies inside the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, which would inundate prime breeding and foraging habitat for resident and migratory birds.
- Ingrid Timboe, Water Research Analyst, Utah Rivers Council
- Zach Frankel, Executive Director, Utah Rivers Council
Strengthening Bird-Based Tourism as a Conservation and Sustainable Development Tool in Paraguay
Guyra Paraguay, partnering with BirdLife International the National Audubon Society, implemented the project “Strengthening Bird-Based Tourism as a Conservation and Sustainable Development Tool” in Paraguay, adding to other countries such as the Bahamas, Belize and Guatemala where the project was also implemented. The project promotes the growth of small businesses by training local bird guides, with a particular focus on increasing the participation of women. Economic opportunities in rural areas have been increased by linking them to ornithological tourism markets, as well as raising society’s awareness on the importance of conserving natural resources. The project lasted 3 years and among our achievements we have: the setting-up of a basic and advanced curriculum of birdwatching guides for the country; training the first generation of birdwatching guides for Paraguay, more than 50% of which are women; strengthening the support of the National Secretariat of Tourism in promoting birdwatching, and the increase of knowledge about it at national level; the development of the first phone app for bird identification in the country; workshops on environmental education in more than 10 institutions about the importance of birds, natural resources and the benefits of sustainable tourism; creation of a national bird watching circuit including 14 sites, allowing the placement of informative panels for educational purposes; the increase of e-Bird platform users, creating a large number of records that will fill the knowledge gap on bird distribution countrywide and; the creation of a community of citizens that act as promoters of the conservation of the natural resources. Guyra Paraguay hopes to continue this valuable contribution as we proudly represent the first NGO to set the baseline to sustainable tourism in Paraguay.
- Alberto Yanosky, Executive Director, Guyra Paraguay
- Tatiana Galluppi, Project Coordinator, Guyra Paraguay
Bird Conservation Programs in Paraguay: Towards a Regional Scheme
Guyra Paraguay has been implementing bird conservation projects across Paraguay for 20 years. Our projects focus on filling knowledge gaps regarding bird distribution and ecology, evaluating the impact of natural protected areas for endemic and migratory birds, promoting sustainable tourism based on birdwatching, and strengthening regional efforts for conserving unique ecosystems in the Southern Cone of South America. We have recognized and established 57 Important Bird Areas in Paraguay and are currently working with several stakeholders to strengthen them. Also, we have acquired around 40,000 ha of land for conservation in perpetuity using IBAs as indicators to prioritize areas in Paraguay. Among our projects, we are leading grassland conservation efforts to conserve key species in this regional ecosystem, collaborating with partners in Argentina and Uruguay on regional monitoring activities, while identifying environmental friendly practices for grassland conservation that benefit birds. Guyra Paraguay is leading the first national project involving the use of nest-boxes to improve nesting success of the Vinaceous-breasted Amazon in eastern Paraguay, representing one of the few concrete conservation actions for this endangered species. Thanks to funding from the National Science Council, we are implementing the first assessment to understand the importance of protected areas as natural refuges for birds in the dry Chaco, hoping to establish an ongoing local monitoring system and advance the importance of this highly endangered region in southern South America, which we have been monitoring for land-use change for 6 years now. Guyra Paraguay is reference for bird conservation in Paraguay as a result of our experience and successful actions. We hope to continue to advance in this endeavor and contribute significantly not only nationally, but regionally and worldwide.
- Alberto Yanosky, Executive Director, Guyra Paraguay
- Viviana Rojas B, Guyra Paraguay
The Power of Citizen Science and Raptor Conservation
The use of citizen science as a data collection and education technique is growing rapidly in the avian world. Every year, Hawkwatch International (HWI) engages hundreds of citizen science volunteers and various Audubon chapters through our research and education programs. Our citizen science projects range from a growing network of over 300 American Kestrel nest boxes to conducting censuses for wintering raptors to surveying for breeding Short-eared Owls to teaching volunteers how to handle HWI’s education raptors for various community programs. These various projects collect valuable scientific data, furthering our understanding of raptors and their conservation needs. In addition, and nearly as important, our inclusion of citizen scientists as a means of project execution helps build personal relationships and trains volunteers to become “raptor ambassadors” to the general public. The engagement of a large citizen science community plays a vital role in the success of HWI’s raptor conservation and education programs.
- Nikki Wayment, Education & Outreach Director, HawkWatch International
- Neil Paprocki, Conservation Biologist, HawkWatch International
- Dave Oleyar, Senior Scientist, HawkWatch International
- Jesse Watson, Research Biologist, HawkWatch International
Urban Oasis GIS Site Selection Tool
The Urban Oases Site Selection Tool was created to identify ideal locations for the establishment of Urban Oases demonstration sites in New Haven, CT. The tool includes a biodiversity map and maps showing social parameters that are of value when choosing new sites. In areas where access to natural areas is limited, local communities are deprived of the opportunity to connect with nature and engage in conservation through stewardship and citizen science. The Urban Oases Site Selection Tool is designed to identify these nature-deprived areas, promote efforts to restore local habitat for birds and people, and address community access to open space, clean air, and clean water.
- Dennis Riordan, President, Menunkatuck Audubon Society
- Katie Blake, Bird Friendly Communities Program Manager, Audubon Connecticut
- Corrie Folsom-O’Keefe, Important Bird Areas Program Coordinator, Audubon Connecticut
Bringing Families into the Flock
See why birds and their habitats are perfect for connecting kids with birds and nature. Our poster will offer an overview of our award winning, curriculum-based field trips and classroom programs, but these are only one way we connect to kids and our community. We regularly engage in community outreach, action-based learning, informal educational opportunities and learning through technology. We focus on engaging the whole family and our surrounding community and will share our secrets. Our cutting-edge plans for the future will be outlined as well as the partnerships that make all we do possible. Out of all our partnerships, our volunteer docents are our most cherished. We will outline our volunteer program and what makes it so successful. Our connections flourish due to being based in the realm of “hands-on” activities. A resource list will be provided.
- Niki Lake, Education Manager, Mitchell Lake Audubon Center
- Sara Beesley, Center Director, Mitchell Lake Audubon Center
Bring Conservation Home
“Bring Conservation Home” was initiated in 2012 by the St. Louis Audubon Society as a habitat consultation and certification service for individual landowners in the St. Louis, Missouri region. Since then, over 800 landscapes have been enrolled, representing over 400 acres of potential new habitat. For a small fee, landowners receive a visit from a team of Habitat Advisors who discuss the owner’s use of and goals for the landscape, survey the grounds, offer immediate feedback and then provide detailed, written recommendations on how to improve the landscape as habitat and meet the owner’s goals. In addition to the consultation and certification visits, the program has expanded to include native landscaping classes and workshops, the installation of demonstration gardens, an annual garden tour and native plant expo. Through intensive, personal contact the program inspires individuals to see their residential, work, religious and institutional landscapes as opportunities to create attractive and functional habitat spaces, improve their communities and connect with nature.
- Mitch Leachman, Executive Director, St. Louis Audubon Society
- Katy Fechter, President, St. Louis Audubon Society
PELI Project: Project in Education and Longitudinal Investigation of American White Pelicans on Gunnison Island, Great Salt Lake, Utah
The Great Salt Lake is the most significant stop-over for birds on the Pacific Flyway, and Gunnison Island in the north arm of the lake is home to one of the largest North American breeding colonies of American White Pelican (AWPE). Here they have been able to breed and raise their chicks because the island is naturally protected from potential predators, such as red fox and coyote. Changing climate, which has led to drought conditions, and upstream water demand has resulted in recent historic low water level of GSL. For the AWPEs, the low water level adversely impacts foraging habitat and formed a land bridge to the island as of the summer of 2016. These significant regional stressors are unique to the Gunnison Island population and we are unsure of the potential influences on phenology, reproductive ecology of adult AWPE, and early development of fledging AWPE population on Gunnison Island. To address these questions, a longitudinal study looking at the timing of Island arrival and departure, and factors that influence fledgling mortality, such as siblicide and adherent weather conditions has begun with a unique collection of collaborating institutions including academia, government agencies and non-profits. Using existing research programs in combination with undergraduate research, live camera technology (aka PELIcam) and citizen science outreach programs we hope to 1) fill knowledge gaps to aid in the management of this sensitive bird species and 2) connect people to pelicans and issues that affect them at the unique and important Great Salt Lake.
- Jaimi Butler, Great Salt Lake Institute at Westminster College
- Cooper Farr, Conservation Director, Tracy Aviary
Smartphones can complement bird survey data when designing noise buffers for the preservation of woodland habitat in South Bexar County, Texas
Smartphones have increasingly become an affordable and accessible tool for collecting field research data. Smartphone data can be used in post analysis of bird calls particularly in areas with dense tree canopy. In this study, we used an iPhone 6 smartphone to record noise levels and bird calls while conducting point counts across transects in a woodland habitat in South Bexar County. The goal of this study was to establish the size of a sound buffer by estimating the distance from a source of high noise disturbance at which noise levels were reduced and bird species abundance increased. We hypothesized that bird species abundance would increase and noise levels would decrease as the distance from the source of high noise disturbance increased. The study was conducted on a 60 acre patch of secondary growth woodland located north east of the Texas A&M University-San Antonio, TX campus. The ecological site for this area is Backland Prairie including tree species such as: Celtis ehrenbergiana, Bumelia celastrina, Condalia hookeri, Diospyros texana. The source of high noise disturbance was a site where a university building is being constructed. Three 200 m transects were laid 150 m apart in perpendicular to the construction site. The point counts were conducted every 50 m. Results from the study showed a 1/3 noise reduction at 50 and 100 meters from the source of high noise disturbance and a 2/3 noise reduction at 150 m. The total number of individuals and species doubled at 100 m from the source of high noise disturbance. The smartphone recordings contributed to an average 3 additional species per point count. This study shows a practical application of smartphone for post data analysis of bird calls and recommends that a minimal 100 m of woodland be maintained as a noise buffer from the construction site.
- J. Rodolfo Valdez Barillas, Conservation Committee Chair, Mitchell Lake Audubon Center
- Lana Novak, Director-at-Large, Wachiska Audubon Society
Water and Birds in the Arid West: Habitats in Decline
In an otherwise arid landscape, water-rich habitats in the West are oases for birds. Audubon’s new report, Water and Birds in the Arid West: Habitats in Decline, represents the first comprehensive assessment of the complex and vital relationships that exist among birds, water, and climate change in the region. The report focuses on two ecosystems: (1) riparian forests and wetlands that line rivers in the Colorado River Basin and (2) saline lakes and associated wetlands, landlocked waterbodies that dot the Intermountain West. Over the last century, these habitats and the birds they support have experienced tremendous change. Altered river flows in the Colorado River Basin have reduced habitat quality for birds, leading to regional declines and the federal listing of three birds in the basin: Yuma Ridgway’s Rail, Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, and Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo. At saline lakes, reduced inflows have lowered water levels and altered food webs, reducing available habitat and food that hundreds of thousands to millions of Eared Grebes, Wilson’s Phalaropes, and American Avocets depend on. Drying trends throughout the West are likely to continue with climate change and a growing human population. Many birds now face degraded habitat and an uncertain future. Solving water management challenges will be necessary to ensure the future of both people and birds in the arid West.
- Lotem Taylor, GIS Technician, National Audubon Society
- Chad Wilsey, Director of Conservation Science, National Audubon Society
- Karyn Stockdale, Director of Western Water Initiative, National Audubon Society
The Future of Birds in our National Parks
Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in North America will react to climate change. Our work defines the climate conditions birds need to survive, then maps where those conditions will be found in the future as the Earth’s climate responds to increased greenhouse gases. Now, Audubon scientists have partnered with the National Park Service to study how climate change is affecting birds in beloved national parks. Though protected from many longstanding and pervasive threats, birds in national parks remain exposed to effects of ongoing climate change. To understand how climate change is likely to alter bird communities in parks, we characterized trends in climate suitability in summer and winter for 513 bird species across 274 national parks. We related climate models to North American Breeding Bird Survey (for summer) and Audubon Christmas Bird Count (for winter) data to historical climate data and projected them to the mid-century. Overall, national parks are projected to become increasingly important for birds in the coming decades as potential gains outpace potential losses in more than 60% of parks. Across parks, climate suitability is projected to improve in winter with milder temperatures above species’ physiological thresholds. Species turnover and potential gains and losses increase with latitude in the lower 48 states. Parks can expect an average turnover of 20% of their current species by mid-century. Parks in the Midwest and Northeast are expected to see particularly high rates of change. Substantial change to bird and ecological communities is anticipated in coming decades, and a focus on managing for ecological integrity rather than simply maintaining a static set of historical conditions may be the best way forward.
- Joanna Wu, Biologist, National Audubon Society
The Success of the GLADE Model for Environmental Education in Southwest Missouri
The Green Leadership Academy for Diverse Ecosystem (GLADE) is a youth leadership project developed by the Missouri State University Biology Department and the Greater Ozarks Audubon Society. The seven-day residential, conservation academy takes place in June each year, at the Bulls Shoals Field Station in the Drury-Mincy Conservation Area in southwest Missouri. The mission of the GLADE is to increase participant knowledge and skills in the care of Ozarks ecosystems, to restore critical habitat for endangered species of Missouri, to develop informed community leaders, and to improve the quality of life through conservation efforts throughout the Ozarks.
- Brooke Widmar, Board Member, Greater Ozarks Audubon Society