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Rate of global biodiversity loss increased significantly during the 20th century associated with human environmental alterations. Specifically, mismanagement of freshwater resources contributed to historical and contemporary loss of stream-dwelling fish diversity and will likely play a role in determining the persistence of species in the future. We present a mechanistic pathway by which human alteration of streams has caused the decline of a unique reproductive guild of Great Plains stream-dwelling fishes, and suggest how future climate change might exacerbate these declines. Stream fragmentation related to impoundments, diversion dams and stream dewatering are consequences of increasing demand for freshwater resources...
The Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative needed seamless landcover data for the south-central United States. This information is essential for developing computer modeling tools related to the conservation of many terrestrial species and determining the quality of vegetation to assess current and desired conditions.
Comprehensive geospatial data covering the area of the Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative is needed to better inform and improve countless conservation efforts and help partners convey a shared vision and priorities for this area in geospatial terms.
Impacts of Habitat Fragmentation on Northern Bobwhites in the Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative
Habitat fragmentation is considered to be a leading cause that is responsible for the long-term population declines of Northern Bobwhites. There are numerous factors responsible for habitat fragmentation such as expanding suburbanization, intensification of agricultural and forestry practices, and invasions of exotic plants; the unifying theme is how people use land for settlement and the production of food and fiber. As patches of habitat become smaller and more isolated, populations experience a lower probability of persistence that results in local extinctions, which can lead to larger, and perhaps even regional extinctions. However, we lack a strong empirical and quantified basis that describes the numerical...
Habitat Loss and Fragmentation Effects in the Management of Northern Bobwhites and Eastern Meadowlarks
Habitat fragmentation and degradation are considered to be a leading causes of long-term population declines of Northern Bobwhites and many other species of grassland birds, such as Eastern Meadowlark. Research is needed to understand the factors causing habitat loss and fragmentation and to identify the areas that are high-probability candidates for successful restoration so that optimal decisions can be made. For example, uncertainty exists regarding the impacts of energy development activities or climate change that affect significant portions of wildlife populations in the GCP LCC. Furthermore, changing land ownership coupled with woody shrub and exotic grass encroachment have reduced the amount and quality...
Monarch butterfly and other pollinators are in trouble. Monarch butterfly habitat— including milkweed host plants and nectar food sources—has declined drastically throughout most of the United States. Observed overwinter population levels have also exhibited a long-term downward trend, suggesting a strong relationship between habitat loss and monarch population declines. Preliminary research results from a U.S. Geological Survey led effort indicate that we need a comprehensive conservation strategy that includes all land types in order to stabilize monarch populations at levels necessary to adequately minimize extinction risk—urban areas will likely play a critical role. This strategy reflects an integrated and...
Grassland-shrubland prairie has been important to the livelihoods of generations of ranchers; to the hunting community because of prized game species; and to endangered species, such as the black-capped vireo, as habitat. In the past, the interests of ranchers, hunters, and endangered species have come into conflict because of increasing pressures on the prairie from land use conversion, new development, and habitat fragmentation. Greater collaboration in advancing mutual interests would greatly expand and improve Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative partners’ efforts to conserve the remaining prairie habitats of the southern Great Plains.
The multi-LCC Mississippi River Basin/Gulf Hypoxia Initiative is a joint effort to find the nexus of water quality, wildlife, and people in the Mississippi River Basin. Integrating hundreds of data layers into a coherent spatial analysis tool, the Precision Conservation Blueprint v1.0 will provide a significant targeting and planning tool for individuals and organizations across the basin to identify opportunity areas for the implementation of specific conservation practices that have maximum multiple benefits for wildlife, water quality (gulf hypoxia), and people and agricultural productivity.Practice Fact Sheets identify a dozen or more high impact conservation actions that have potential for multi-sector benefits...
Managing Instream Flows and Developing Hydrologic Information for the Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative
The Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership, a partner in the Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative, is advancing instream flow science by developing basic information necessary to support flow standards and water management recommendations for waterways throughout the region. Helping resource managers prepare for future population growth and climate change-associated flow alterations at regional and local scales will enable state and federal agencies to focus regulatory and management efforts on habitats most vulnerable to altered flow. They will be able to develop more effective management strategies to minimize impacts to fish and wildlife and better inform policy-makers on conservation needs.
Evaluating the reproductive success of Arkansas River shiner by evaluating early life-history stage dispersal and survival at a landscape level
Reduced to its most fundamental level, the management problem addressed by this project is the basic conflict between the fact that fish need water and the reality that the amount and quality of the water available has been dramatically altered by human activities. For fishes dependent upon specific flows for successful reproduction, the quality and quantity of available water are likely the primary determinants of habitat quality. In many cases, the minimum requirements of water quantity and quality needed to support self-sustaining fish populations are unknown and thus there is no way for resource managers to effectively assess habitat quality and its ability to support fish populations under current or future...
The southeast United States’ rivers and streams support the most diverse unionid (freshwater mussel) fauna on earth. These species are a focus of the GCP LCC because their sensitivity to habitat degradation, fish community changes, and changes in water quality and quantity make them akin to the proverbial ‘canary in the coal mine.’ They are essential components of riverine ecosystems, influencing nutrient cycling and macro-invertebrate diversity. Their decline during the past century stems from overharvest, water pollution, habitat fragmentation, and introduction of nonindigenous predators and exotic mollusks; however, habitat degradation has been the most influential.
Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative partners need new computer models to help address threats to grassland habitats, such as land conversion and habitat fragmentation, affecting LCC focal species such as the northern bobwhite and eastern meadowlark. These tools will help partners determine the best places to invest limited resources in conserving and restoring grasslands to support self-sustaining wildlife populations.
The basic task of inventorying biodiversity has actually been under way for many years. Existing natural history museum collections, like those in which we work, can provide major contributions to such inventories in the form of valuable historic organism occurrence records, and their specimens can be used in many ways for basic research and applied conservation planning. Unfortunately, much of the wealth of information stored in natural history collections requires substantial investment to be made accessible and useful to natural resource managers and researchers. We were charged by the GPLCC with providing some of the inventory data that will be required, and to assess what other data may be available and what...
Support for monitoring and evaluation of grassland birds, habitat, and management practices for focal species in Oklahoma
A decline in habitat quality and quantity in the southern Great Plains is a driving factor in population declines of endemic grassland birds, insects, and native plants. Native grassland species face habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as habitat degradation from pesticide use, invasive species, woody encroachment, disease, and climate change. Few baseline datasets exist to compare long term change over time from both local and landscape (ecoregion) levels. These datasets could then be used in conjunction with conservation decisions by local entities as well as training datasets for future modeling efforts.