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 

    Whooping Cranes

    Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Studying the effects of sea level rise in coastal Texas

Formal Title: Employing the Conservation Design Approach on Sea-Level Rise Impacts on Coastal Avian Habitats along the Central Texas Coast

Research Focus: Coastal habitat; whooping crane (Grus Americana)

Conservation & Management Challenges:

Sea level rise caused by climate change is an ongoing phenomenon and a concern both locally and worldwide. Low-lying coastal areas are particularly at risk to flooding and inundation, affecting a large proportion of the human population concentrated in these areas as well as natural communities—particularly animal species that depend on these habitats as a key component of their life cycle. While more local, state, and federal governments have become concerned with the potential effects that predicted sea levels will have on their communities and coastal landscapes, more information is needed on the potential effects that changes in sea level will have on coastal habitats and species.

Research Overview:

Developing this science is a priority for the Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative. The project involves studying the effects of sea level rise on coastal habitats and birds such as the endangered whooping crane and aplomado falcon. It also involves evaluating potential scenarios for future impacts on a variety of species—including grassland birds, shorebirds, and waterfowl—so that habitat conservation measures can be planned for and developed more effectively.

Results:

This report provides a comprehensive landscape approach to characterize the current and future habitat availability for a selected suite of species of concern within the Gulf Coast Prairies ecoregion along the Central Texas coast. It contains a Composite Habitat Type Dataset that identifies spatial location and extent of coastal habitat types, developed lands, and protected areas in the GCPLCC pilot project; an estimate of the amount and spatial configuration of habitat type needs for whooping cranes in the pilot project area; projections of the amount and spatial configuration of appropriate habitat types and evaluation of potential impacts on selected bird species numbers; maps that depict habitat type shifts in coastal prairie and marshes under various sea-level rise scenarios and define the shifts in habitat availability and extent for the whooping crane and other selected species; and recommended ways to apply methods used to develop these projections to extend results to additional areas within the Gulf Coast Prairies and Marshes Ecoregion.

View the webinar presenting results on Sea Level Rise and Avian Habitats along the Central Gulf Coast

Access coastal SLR in Texas project reports on Sciencebase

Status:

The 2-year project was initiated in 2012 and completed in 2014. It was being funded by the Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative.

Contacts:

Principal Investigator: Elizabeth Smith, International Crane Foundation, c/o Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Mailstop 5837, 6300 Ocean Drive, Corpus Christi, TX 78412

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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