Implementation of the National Bird Conservation Priorities (hosted by TWS)

In 2018, the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) released a National Bird Conservation Priorities document last August, and now is focused on promoting these Priorities in several ways.  The symposium will promote these Priorities highlighting work that supports or advances one or more of the Priority Actions.The theme of the proposed symposium will focus on two related Priority Actions:  1) Increase coordination and cooperation across federal agencies, and among federal and state agencies, to implement conservation policies and actions at broad scales, and 2) Develop multi-agency integrated approach to research and monitoring in order to provide information on broad patterns and trends.  Symposium presentations; presentations will focus on case studies or projects that advance one or both of the Priority Actions and will have a project component that involves bird conservation.

1:10PM Least Bell’s Vireo Conservation Collaboration
  Amy L Fesnock
Historically, the Least Bell’s Vireo (LBVI), Vireo bellii pusillus, was a common bird found in lowland riparian areas. It ranged from the coast in Southern California up northward into the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys and eastward into the California desert regions. At the time of listing in 1986, it had been extirpated from most of its historic range and was confined to California’s southern coast with fewer than 300 pairs statewide. Reasons for declines include lost or degradation of riparian habitat, changes in water management, and brood parasitism. Department of Defense, US Army Corps of Engineers, and Bureau of Reclamation have all played significant roles in protecting and improving habitat for LBVI and managing nest parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds. With these efforts, LBVI have responded by increasing more than 10 fold and expanding back into portions of the historic range. Even though successful, these efforts are not enough. Recognizing this, DOD initiated the Collaborative Wildlife Protection and Recovery Initiative (CWPRI) to facilitate collaboration among agencies to develop and organize commitments toward conservation of listed species, with LBVI as one of the first. Recovery of this species involves managing water resources to restore suitable habitat, controlling brown-headed cowbird parasitism, eliminating invasive plants, and addressing threats to habitat such as climate change and shot hole borers. LBVI are resilient and able to bounce back with suitable conditions if we do our part. While the efforts of DOD, ACE, and BOR are tremendous, to ultimately achieve recovery, collaboration across more agencies is needed. We will highlight the current activities of the CWPRI: habitat modeling, habitat assessment, surveying historic areas to document continued range expansion, species assessments and updating the recovery plan with new information.
1:30PM Science & Adaptive Management in a National Monument
  John Alexander
The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument was the first U.S. monument set aside specifically for preserving biodiversity. This talk will focus on how Partner in Flight’s multi-species science-driven approach has been used to inform and measure the effectiveness of adaptive management aimed at preserving biological diversity and improving habitat management in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. We will focus on 20 years of Klamath Bird Observatory monitoring and research that was sustained through effective collaboration with the Bureau of Land Management and many other partners. We will demonstrate how our results tie to the Monument’s establishment and expansion, its management plan that included the removal of cattle grazing from the Monument, and effectiveness measures of ecological conservation in the Monument. In this presentation we will summarize results, focusing on how the Klamath Bird Observatory’s science has helped to shape management actions that have benefited migratory birds, ecosystem health, and biodiversity in the Monument with attention to how this work has met North American Bird Conservation Initiative priorities.
1:50PM New Avian Knowledge Network Capacities for Meeting Bird Conservation Priorities
  Eric Kershner
The Avian Knowledge Network (AKN) is a network of people, data, and technology that improves bird conservation, management, and research across organizational boundaries and spatial scales. AKN is based on a sustainable partnership model that includes non-profit organization fundraising, government cooperative agreements, private contracts, and contributions of data, information, and technologies, all coalescing into a diversified cost-share driven collaboration. This presentation will focus on recent advances — the AKN has increased in geographic and taxonomic coverage, ability to federate large datasets, and capacity to deliver data and decision support. We will provide examples of how the AKN’s is helping partners meet national bird conservation priorities.
2:10PM Conserving “Our” Birds Outside of North America: Collaboration with the East Asian-Australasian and Circumpolar Flyways
  Casey Burns
In order to plan and implement effective strategies to conserve North American migratory birds it is necessary to build relationships with partners beyond our continent. Many sensitive species that breed in North America, especially the Arctic, use flyways that take them out of the western hemisphere and into landscapes and countries with vastly different conservation and management situations. Despite relatively undisturbed Arctic breeding habitat, many bird species, especially shorebirds, are in precipitous decline and the need for coordinated action is urgent. Priority conservation issues vary by country and species, but if not addressed, limiting factors throughout a bird’s annual cycle can affect the survivorship of an individual and ultimately, the status of an entire population or species. This presentation will highlight how cooperative efforts between federal agencies in the US (Alaska) benefit North American breeding birds, their habitats, and the people that value them through the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) and the Circumpolar Flyway via Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) Arctic Migratory Bird Initiative (AMBI). Integrated monitoring efforts, collaborative management, coordinated outreach, and case studies from the CAFF State of Arctic Terrestrial Biodiversity Monitoring Report, AMBI Work Plan, and the EAAFP Work Plan will be shared. The five themes of the National Bird Conservation Priorities are applicable and although not explicitly referenced, are addressed throughout these migratory bird partnerships. There is an opportunity to further conservation by increasing collaboration on migratory bird outreach, management, and research between flyways. There is also an opportunity to bridge continents and cultures and bring people together over shared interest in migratory birds and their habitats.
2:30PM The Gulf of Mexico Avian Monitoring Network: Long-Term and Large-Scale Monitoring to Address Conservation Needs
  Patrick Jodice
Despite the importance of the Gulf of Mexico to North American avifauna, monitoring plans and activities in the region are sparse and vary greatly in design and implementation across even within taxa. To address the diverse monitoring challenges and complexities across species, habitats, and the region, the Gulf of Mexico Avian Monitoring Network (GoMAMN) was formed. GoMAMN’s goal is to define a vision and process for developing the role of bird monitoring in achieving integrated, efficient, and effective management and recovery of impacted avian species in the Gulf of Mexico. Utilizing Structured Decision Making, the team developed a set of fundamental objectives along with an explicit objectives hierarchy that reflects the goals, objectives, values, and information needs for an integrated Gulf avian monitoring strategy. Fundamental objectives reflect the need for scientific rigor, relevancy, and integration with other monitoring efforts. Relevant emphases of monitoring efforts focus on maximizing ability to (1) assess status and trends, (2) reduce uncertainty associated with management, and (3) understand ecological processes and their respective impacts on avian populations. Collectively, this framework provides a means to (1) establish baselines for assessing future perturbations, (2) evaluate restoration activities, (3) fill critical information gaps related to how ecological processes drive bird populations, and (4) establish priorities for monitoring from among a diverse suite of options. In 2019 GoMAMN released a comprehensive strategic monitoring plan for several avian taxa and developed guidelines for the development of monitoring plans focused on avian health. Future efforts will be directed at implementing standardized taxa-specific monitoring protocols to ensure data comparability across the Gulf region, highlighting avian monitoring priorities across the region, and providing technical monitoring expertise. These activities will occur at project and region-wide geographic scales and include federal and state agencies as well as NGOs.
2:50PM Refreshment Break
3:20PM The Gulf of Mexico Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species: Development and Implementation of Large-Scale, Long-Term Monitoring Strategies
  Patrick Jodice
The Gulf of Mexico Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species (GoMMAPPS) is a collaborative effort of multiple federal agencies designed to improve data on living marine resource abundance, distribution, habitat use, and behavior in the Gulf of Mexico. Data will be used to mitigate and monitor for potential impacts of human activities, including offshore energy development and to inform regulatory decisions. Seabird surveys associated GoMMAPPS are uncovering previously unknown aspects of the distribution, abundance, and seasonality for these apex predators. From April 2017 – August 2019 we have conducted ~ 200 days of surveys on 15 NOAA cruises. Using standard, transect-based methodology we have amassed ~ 6,000 detections of 36 seabird species totaling ~ 25k seabirds. Preliminary results suggest a significant number of the continent’s black terns Chlidonias niger use the Mississippi River delta as staging, migratory, and non-breeding habitat for up to eight months of the year. Although commonly associated with tropical coastal environments, GoMMAPPS surveys have observed the brown booby Sula leucogaster to be widespread in pelagic Gulf waters, even more so than the regionally-breeding masked booby Sula dactylatra. GoMMAPPS has also discovered that seasonal use of the Gulf by Macaronesian-breeding band-rumped storm-petrels Oceanodroma castro spans at least March to September, more than two months longer than recorded for this species elsewhere off the southeastern United States. Finally, GoMMAPPS has regularly detected black-capped petrel Pterodroma hasitata using the offshore Gulf. These novel insights into the habitat use and distributions of the seabirds using the Gulf of Mexico provide an important ecological context for current regional activities and can inform the development of future activities. The results of this study will provide important information to inform both BOEM and BSEE regulatory needs, as well as other agencies and stakeholders involved in effective management and conservation of Gulf protected species.
3:40PM Integrated Desert Thrasher Protocol
  Elisabeth Ammon
Elisabeth M. Ammon1, Dawn Fletcher1, Lauren Harter1, Chris McCreedy2, Geoffrey Geupel2, Sandra Brewer3, and Geoffrey Walsh3. 1Great Basin Bird Observatory, 1755 E. Plumb Lane #256, Reno, NV 89502;; 2Point Blue Conservation Science, 3820 Cypress Drive #11, Petaluma, CA 94954; 3Bureau of Land Management, 1340 Financial Blvd., Reno, NV 89512. In 2016, the Desert Thrasher Working Group, a collaborative initiative of Partners in Flight and the Sonoran Joint Venture, developed a protocol for monitoring Bendire’s and LeConte’s thrashers (Toxostoma bendirei and T. lecontei), which often go undetected in standard multi-species protocols due to low densities and early breeding season. The protocol comprises an area-limited area search, coupled with vegetation assessments, in randomly-selected grid cells within landcovers occupied by the species in the states that cover the majority of the U.S. breeding population. The protocol was implemented in a massive collaborative effort by these five states in 2016/17, surveying 839 Bendire’s and 728 LeConte’s thrasher plots, with 80 and 151, respectively, occupied. When modeling vegetation parameters of occupied and non-occupied plots, we found that Bendire’s thrasher occupancy was positively correlated with tree density, and the presence of cholla cactus, ephemeral washes, livestock, and elevation. LeConte’s thrasher occupancy was positively correlated with Yucca spp. density, invasive plant species, and presence of off-highway-vehicle activity, but was negatively correlated with tree density and livestock presence. These data, while spanning a large region, indicate that the two species occur in landscapes that show signs of at least some disturbance, but are also associated with plants that are particularly sensitive to both local disturbances and climate change, such as Yucca and cholla cactus. The survey protocol was more effective at detecting thrashers than are standard multi-species protocols and provides the opportunity for robust region-wide studies of the causes of significant declines observed in desert thrashers.
4:00PM Doing More Together: Integrated Monitoring Approach for Breeding Landbirds
  Jennifer Timmer
The Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions (IMBCR) program was created in 2008 in response to national recommendations for improving avian monitoring. Today, the IMBCR program is the second largest breeding bird monitoring program in the nation, spanning the Great Plains to the Intermountain West. The strength of the IMBCR program lies in its partnership with multiple state and federal agencies and nonprofit organizations. Monitoring resources are pooled across the partners and sampling occurs in a spatially balanced, probabilistic framework. This promotes a more efficient use of resources and allows for inference to multiple scales, from a forest district up to a Forest Service Region. Because the program is stratified based on fixed attributes and boundaries, bird populations can be monitored over time to evaluate avian responses to landscape and climate change. For these reasons, the IMBCR program addresses both of the NABCI Priority Actions: to increase coordination across state and federal agencies for an integrated monitoring approach, which provides information on broad patterns and trends for breeding landbirds.
4:20PM Bird Conservation and Solar Energy Conflict Resolution in the California Desert
  Amy L Fesnock
Increasing global energy demand is fostering development of solar energy as an alternative to fossil fuels. While reducing fossil fuel use is a policy priority, understanding the potential adverse impacts from renewables on local and regional bird populations has also been prioritized. Facility siting guidelines recommend or require project developers complete pre- and post-construction wildlife surveys to predict risk and estimate effects of proposed projects. The ecological and conservation significances of avian fatalities at solar facilities are difficult to predict and depend on their population-level consequences. This difficulty arises partly because of information gaps and partly because the data on stressors are usually collected in a count-based manner (e.g., number of dead animals) that is difficult to translate into rate-based estimates important to infer population-level consequences (e.g., changes in mortality rates). However, difficulty can be overcome by using ecological information from affected animals to upscale from count-based field data on individuals to rate-based demographic inference. Here, we discuss how pre- and post-construction surveys are conducted and how their design affects our ability to understand impacts of solar energy on wild bird populations. We then propose a four-step framework to generate demographic influence about affected populations, using: (1) field-based measurement of the effect of the stressor on individuals; (2) characterizing the location and size of the populations of interest; (3) demographic modeling for those populations; and (4) assessing the significance of stressor-induced changes in demographic rates. We detail these steps and then illustrate their application for an example species affected by different solar energy. This approach provides a potential framework by which conflict between birds and solar energy can be understood.
4:40PM International Education and Awareness Collaboration for Bird Conservation
  Susan Bonfield
International Education and Awareness Collaboration for Bird Conservation Long-distance bird migrations join nations, scientists, and conservationists in efforts to conserve hundreds of species. Awareness of migratory birds, the delight they evoke, and awareness of threats is critical to bird conservation. World Migratory Bird Day is a global celebration of migratory birds that blends impactful conservation messages, compelling activities for youth and adults, and practical actions anyone can take to conserve birds, to inform communities about birds and their conservation. Our goal is to motivate bird conservation action at the personal, local, state and national levels. Community-based activities, education programs, and festivals, as well as via the media are primary ways to convey threats to migratory birds and how individuals and groups may help mitigate these threats. In 2019, WMBD focuses on the impacts of plastic pollution to migratory birds and challenges participants to join plastic cleanups around the world and to reduce plastic use. Events include cleanups at major conferences and in diverse habitats, including coastal, riparian, urban, and agricultural. In summary, Environment or the Americas (EFTA) coordinates long-term efforts of WMBD in the Western Hemisphere, working with governmental and non-governmental organizations from Canada to Argentina and the Caribbean. We host over 700 programs and events, reaching thousands of participants. EFTA provides the framework for events, promotional and educational materials and direct training in multiple languages. With our partners, the Convention on Migratory Species and the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasion Migratory Waterbirds, together, we coordinate efforts in Europe, Africa, and Asia as well. In this presentation, we will provide background information about WMBD, sharing its growth and ways that biologists, scientists, communities, organizations, and individuals can become involved.

Organizers: Geoffrey Walsh
Supported by: BLM

Location: Reno-Sparks CC Date: October 3, 2019 Time: 1:10 pm - 5:00 pm