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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.
Spatially-Explicit Decision Support Tool for Guiding Habitat Conservation for Western Gulf Coast Mottled Ducks
The mottled duck, a focal species for the Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative, is one of only a few duck species adapted to breeding in southern marshes. A major part of its population spends its entire life cycle within a relatively small coastal area in eastern Texas and western Louisiana. This is a thriving part of the Mississippi and Central Flyways, two of four major waterfowl migration routes in North America. In recent years, the mottled duck’s habitat and surrounding areas have been compromised by urbanization, agricultural development, and changes to the area’s hydrology affecting coastal wetlands. The latter threat includes the ramifications of climate change, such as sea level rise and...
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...
Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative partners are undertaking numerous efforts to conserve and restore coastal resources, many of which are sensitive to the effects of climate change. Natural resource managers need improved computer modeling tools to effectively evaluate possible sea level rise scenarios along the Gulf of Mexico Coast to better predict the effects on valuable habitats and wildlife.
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.
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.
Freshwater fishes are globally among the most imperiled major biodiversity groups and they are especially endangered in the North American deserts of the vast binational Desert LCC. Sixty seven native fish species of conservation concern are in the study area, which includes all of the DLCC in both the US and Mexico. Essentially all species in our study area are understudied and management of them has been greatly impeded by the intrinsic difficulties of working internationally and by relative lack of, or inaccessibility to, basic knowledge about their distributions and conservation status. We propose to mine data from all online and known US-based institutions holding specimen-based occurrence records from our...
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...
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...
The Lower Rio Grande Valley in south Texas is one of the largest migratory bird stopovers in North America and a major birding hotspot. Reservoir development allowed controlled flows of the lower Rio Grande River and subsequent agricultural expansion in the river valley, resulting in rapid population growth and habitat loss, causing significant declines in fish and wildlife populations. Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative partners wish to restore habitat and self-sustaining migratory bird populations in the valley.
This project, part of a broader effort called the Gulf Coast Vulnerability Assessment, involved identifying gaps in data and integrating datasets and corresponding metadata required for a Gulf of Mexico-wide assessment of conditions and variables affecting barrier island vulnerability. Morphologic and geospatial datasets were later incorporated into the Conservation Planning Atlas, an emerging technology that makes a vast amount of geospatial data more easily accessible and available at no cost to conservation partners.