While habitat selection and population estimates are well documented for spring migrating birds in the central Platte River system, little information or monitoring efforts on the North Platte River exist, particularly for the multiple priority bird species known to be present. Most conservation partners deliver habitat programs in the region with limited information and a lack of a landscape prioritization tools. In order for conservation delivery to be more effective and efficient in utilizing limited funds, a decision support tool is critical so that priority species habitat needs are being addressed through appropriate restoration/management strategies in the correct geography at multiple scales. We propose to identify and address key uncertainties related to the ecological requirements of sandhill cranes and waterfowl on the North Platte River that can ultimately be implemented as a decision support tool directing “on-the-ground” habitat delivery strategies. Anticipated outcomes will include surveys documenting population estimates and locations; vegetation and wetland mapping; and a compilation of additional ecological habitat covariates that will be implemented into habitat suitability models for sandhill cranes and waterfowl. Results will be applied by partners, refine local habitat initiatives and direct conservation delivery. The products include: (1) survey data documenting the distribution and abundance of sandhill cranes and waterfowl roosting in the North Platte River Valley, (2) high resolution vegetation map characterizing crane and waterfowl habitat, (3) species distribution models describing habitat and habitat selection, and (4) decision support tools to prioritize conservation actions for cranes and waterfowl.
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