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Surrogate species for wetland-dependent birds in the prairie pothole region: selection, evaluation, and management application in the face of climate change

Principal Investigator(s): 
Susan Skagen (U.S. Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center) and Barry Noon (Dept Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, Colorado State University)
Co-Investigator(s): 
Helen Sofaer (Colorado State University); Valerie Steen (USGS Fort Collins Science Center); Ben Rashford (University of Wyoming); John Stamm (USGS South Dakota Water Science Center); Kevin Doherty (USFWS, Prairie Pothole Joint Venture); Neil Niemuth, (USFWS, Habitat and Population Evaluation Team); Cami Dixon (Zone Biologist, USFWS Region 6, National Wildlife Refuge System); Mark Chase (Director, USFWS Natural Resource Program Center); Natalie Sexton (Chief, Human Dimensions Branch, USFWS Natural Resource Program Center); Lee O’Brien (Ecologist, USFWS National Wildlife Refuge System), Socheata Lor (USFWS, Regional Inventory and Monitoring Coordinator), Rick Nelson and Mike Olson (Plains and Prairie Pothole Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PPPLCC))

The Prairie Pothole Region spans parts of North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Iowa and south-central Canada and contains millions of wetlands that provide habitat for breeding and migrating birds. Because it is the continent’s most important breeding area for waterfowl, conservation and management largely focuses on protecting habitat for nesting ducks. However, other wetland-dependent birds also rely on this region, and it is important to understand the degree to which habitat conserved for ducks provides habitat for other species, and how the quality of this habitat will be affected by climate change. We are testing whether waterfowl are effective representatives, or surrogates, for other wetland-dependent birds by predicting how climate change will affect habitat suitability for waterfowl and other species. We are also considering how climate change is likely to affect land-use patterns and agricultural conversion risk, and are using these predictions to identify areas of the landscape where both waterfowl and other species are expected to have suitable habitat in the future. Our research helps managers efficiently direct their resources towards conserving areas that will provide habitat to a broad suite of species.

More on the NCCWSC project page