GCP Science Team: Projects, data, science plan & membership
The Science Team of the Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GCP) met on September 6-7. The meeting was originally planned as an in-person meeting at Kerr Wildlife Management Area (Hunt, TX) hosted by Dr. Preston Bean (TPWD); however, the meeting was changed to a series of four remote webinar sessions due to regional impacts from and responses to Hurricane Harvey. Thirteen individuals participated including six Science Team members, three invited guests, the Chair of the LCC Steering Committee, and five LCC support staff.
Navigating Transformational Change:
- Jim Giocomo (Chair, GCP Steering Committee) and Bill Bartush (GCP Coordinator) briefed team members on news and efforts from the Steering Committee since the last Science Team meeting (March 2017). The GCP continues to comply with the Secretary of the Department of the Interior’s internal review of boards, commissions, and committees.
- GCP will maintain most core functions (communications, science and scientific review, and data management) of the cooperative for one year. This will provide an opportunity for continued discussion among partners to identify a path to transition the coordination function of the partnership.
- GCP has adopted a streamlined process for developing science project ideas through the Science Team. Eleven science project ideas were identified during the spring 2017 meeting and six have been fully developed, evaluated, and are ready for the consideration and refinement of the Steering Committee.
- Ben Kahler (GCP Science Coordinator) briefed team members on the status of LCC-funded science projects including four new projects to pilot Landscape Conservation Design in the mid-coast of Texas, monitor pollinators in Texas and Oklahoma, and estimate breeding propensity of mottled duck in Louisiana.
- The conversation about what science ideas GCP pursues is changing due to the steady decline of funds for science from USFWS over the years.
Data Management and Documentation:
- Blair Tirpak (GCP GIS Coordinator) provided an overview of how the GCP and other LCCs are responding to recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences and the Department of the Interior’s Office of the Inspector General to document the work of LCCs (including meetings, plans, strategies, products, projects and associated metadatata) through a series of highly-connected, publicly-available platforms (e.g., ScienceBase, Conservation Planning Atlases, websites) using standardized processes and tools to facilitate efficient delivery of metadata by the end of September 2017.
- The GCP will soon transition our website to the LCC Network platform to comply with a USFWS directive to migrate all data assets to federal servers.
Drafting a Science Plan for the GCP:
- The Science Team continued to draft its GCP Science Plan. The plan identifies specific actions with timelines and metrics to evaluate relevant goals, objectives, and strategies established by the Steering Committee in the revised GCP LCC Development and Operations Plan. The Science Team is on track to recommend a draft of the GCP Science Plan to the Steering Committee for review and feedback by the end of 2017.
Science Team membership:
GCP develops the science resources its partners need to carry out their conservation efforts on-the-ground. The GCP science coordinator and science team greatly support the GCP coordinator and steering committee, advising them of partners’ collective science needs and priorities. They also keep the coordinator and steering committee apprised of progress in the development of science projects. The GCP Science Team Charter calls for 9 to 15 members. As is the case with any team or workgroup, people come and go over time for many different reasons. As of 10 May, 2017, we have ten current members and up to four vacant spots on our Science Team. Based on discussions with current and former members of the Science Team and others, and given the current and planned efforts for our partnership (i.e., LCD Pilot), the GCP requires expertise in ecology of freshwater and marine mussels, landscape ecology (broad integration of terrestrial and aquatic systems), monitoring and evaluation of conservation delivery, and water resources. We look forward to adding members to the Science Team in the near future to maintain and enhance the work of the GCP.