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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...
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...
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.
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...
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.
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...
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.
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...
Developing tools for detecting climate change impacts on birds and their habitats in the desert southwest and northwest Mexico
Assessing the vulnerability of species or ecosystems to climate change and formulating appropriate management responses requires predictions of the exposure and sensitivity of the species or ecosystems to projected changes. This collaborative effort by the Sonoran Joint Venture, Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative, and Point Reyes Bird Observatory will develop a foundation for monitoring environmental change in the desert southwest by identifying where and what to monitor in order to evaluate climate-change impacts.Climate change will not have the same effects in all locations of the southwest. Some areas will change quickly (hotspots) and others will change slowly (refugia). Identifying both types of areas...
Quantification of Alligator Gar Recruitment Dynamics Using a River-Stage Specific Floodplain Inundation Model
Alligator Gar, Atractosteus spatula, is an iconic species native to lowland floodplain river systems where they play an important role as top predators and by linking landscapes through their movement. Alligator Gar is also an important native fisheries species in the Trinity River. Disruption of river-floodplain connectivity is implicated in declining populations of Alligator Gar across much of its range. Successful management and conservation of Alligator Gar populations will be aided by an understanding of the relationship between flow and recruitment, particularly the availability and suitability of off-channel habitats utilized by this species for reproduction.