During the June meeting, the Great Plains LCC Steering Committee recommended six science projects be funded at a total of $854,480. These projects focus on the priority research needs for a number of species and habitats in the Southern Great Plains. (See the table below for a list of funded projects.)
For the FY2011 RFP, a subset of five species was selected as umbrella species based on their relevance as an indicator to a habitat type and/or guild of species found in the Great Plains LCC. The presence/absence and abundance of these indicator or umbrella species denotes a specific environmental condition and relates to the structure and function of various habitats within the Great Plains LCC, many of which are imperiled or likely to be impacted by stressors, including climate variability. Consequently, scientific research and monitoring of the habitats and life cycles of these species will inform conservation activities that benefit many other species utilizing the same habitats in the Great Plains.
The Technical Review Panel, which consisted of 11 scientists with broad technical expertise and who represent the diversity of the greater partnership, reviewed and ranked 34 proposals according to several criteria, including how well they met both Department of Interior (DOI) performance measures and GPLCC science priorities. The panel’s analysis was used by the Steering Committee to make its final recommendation.
“I’m very pleased that all of the selected projects meet DOI performance measures and directly address our research priorities as identified in the FY2011 GPLCC Science Priorities Report,” says James Broska, GPLCC Science Coordinator. “For example, one of the projects will develop a Lesser Prairie-Chicken (LEPC) range-wide survey monitoring technique, which is essential as we coordinate our efforts to conserve this imperiled species. The survey method will provide resource managers with a more consistent approach for population trend analyses across the five-state LEPC range and is important to many of our partners.”
“This project will allow states within the LEPC range to test a standardized survey methodology, thus allowing us to compare population segments across the range,” says Bill Van Pelt, Grassland Coordinator for the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and a core member of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Interstate Working Group. “That’s huge when it comes to being able to make management decisions. The states currently have a variety of means by which they monitor their populations, but comparisons across state lines are difficult to make because of different methodologies being used by the states.”
Work on the funded projects is already underway or will begin shortly. Final reports are expected by September 30, 2012.