Conservation Partners connecting working lands conservation from the Gulf of Mexico to the High Plains with the vision of a sustainable landscape of natural resources resilient to the threats and stressors associated with our changing world.

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Conservation Coordinator 

    Northern Pintail

    Northern Pintail
    US Fish and Wildlife Service SW Region

Decision support for linking regional-scale management actions to continental-scale conservation of wide-ranging species.

Formal Title: Decision support for linking regional-scale management actions to continental-scale conservation of wide-ranging species.

Research Focus:

Conservation & Management Challenges:

Conserving migratory or wide-ranging species presents considerable challenges, as these individuals move across disparate jurisdictions often crossing international borders among crucial stages of their annual cycle. Within North America, Migratory Bird Joint Ventures (JVs) have established successful partnerships to coordinate the planning and delivery of conservation actions within key regions to benefit migratory bird populations.  However, the extent to which local conservation actions influence regional demographics and in turn affect continental population dynamics remains poorly understood.  Maximizing efficient use of limited resources to conserve habitats for wide-ranging species has motivated a critical need to develop modeling frameworks to evaluate effects of local-scale conservation decisions on population demographics in the face of stressors such as climate and landscape change. This is especially relevant to the North American LCC network with its focus on cross-taxa conservation among multiple LCCs.

Migratory waterfowl species provide an excellent model system with which to develop this framework, as they are not only highly valued by the public but there also exists annual datasets on population demographics throughout their ranges.

 

Research Overview:

The long-term goals of this effort are to: 1) work with regional managers in developing a decision-support framework informing regional-scale conservation decisions that scale up to balance trade-offs among population objectives at a continental level while accounting for uncertainties about future climate and landscape change; and 2) evaluate and communicate the transferability of our decision-support framework to other wide-ranging species of conservation concern.

Partners:  Gulf Coast Prairie LCC Coordinator [LEAD], Great Plains LCC, California LCC, Plains and Prairie Potholes LCC.  The partnership is diverse and international, representing a total of 20 organizations: 4 LCCs, 6 Joint Ventures, 5 federal programs, 1 state program, 3 universities, and 1 non-government organization.

 

Results:

Main accomplishments of this project are (1) development of an “integrated population model” for northern pintail to guide harvest and habitat management, (2) development of a prairie parkland breeding sub-model to predict pintail productivity (in collaboration with Ducks Unlimited Canada and Environment Canada), (3) development of statistical methodology to estimate pintail productivity from hunter-collected wing samples and relate productivity estimates to covariates, and (4) an illustration of how to use a model and estimated parameters to predict pintail population size and sustainable harvest as a function of changes in habitat and climate.

Work on estimating survival from banding data showed that there has been relative little variation in survival across spatial locations or years. Instead, the work on developing a productivity model is used to estimate a winter-ground habitat effect on productivity and the strength of productivity density-dependence. Thus, most temporal variation in pintail demographic rates is due to habitat effects on reproduction and not survival, as was originally proposed through expert elicitation (Mattsson et al. 2012). Thus, habitat conservation efforts should focus on maintaining wintering habitat in the range of historical experience, and wintering habitat improvements should not be expected to increase survival. Perturbations in excess of historical experience, as could be realized under climate change, might have greater influence on survival but cannot be estimated with current data. Direct effects of climate, land use, or management on productivity are likely to be greater, but large amounts of uncertainty persist for predictions of equilibrium population size and sustainable yield.

 

Status:

This project was initiated in 2013 and completed in 2015. Final project report is pending.

Contacts:

Principal Investigator:  Erik E. Osnas, Supervisory Wildlife Biologist (Biometrician), Division of Migratory Bird Management, Region 7; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 1011 E. Tudor Road, MS 201; Anchorage, Alaska 99503-6199; 907.786.3853; email: erik_osnas@fws.gov

 

Landscape Conservation Cooperative Point-of-Contact: Bill Bartush, Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative, National Wetlands Research Center, 700 Cajundome Boulevard, Lafayette, LA 70506

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