Project

Identifying Conservation Objectives for the Gulf Coast Habitats of the Black Skimmer and Gull-billed Tern

Project Summary

Affiliation(s): Southeast CSC, South Central CSC

Principal Investigator(s):
  • James Cronin (USGS Wetland and Aquatic Research Center)

Many shorebirds and nearshore waterbirds are of conservation concern across the Gulf of Mexico due to stressors such as human disturbance, predation, and habitat loss and degradation. Conservation and protection of these birds is important for the functioning of healthy ecosystems and for maintaining biodiversity in North America. Consequently, resource managers along the gulf need decision-aiding tools that can efficiently help to answer important conservation questions for different species (e.g. which areas and how much area should be targeted by management actions to meet a particular species’ needs).

To address this need, project researchers are developing statistical models that will help identify habitat conservation objectives and actions for bird species taking into account different gulf coast conservation scenarios that might occur in response to sea-level rise. The project will focus specifically on the Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) and Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica), two species identified as representative of sustainable gulf habitats and designated as U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Species of Conservation Concern and Gulf Coast Joint Venture Priority Species. These two birds are also representative of a variety of other beach and barrier-island nesting birds whose nesting habitats are threatened by sea-level rise (e.g., Least Tern, Snowy and Wilson’s Plover). The statistical models will link each bird’s population abundance to habitat characteristics that could be influenced by different management actions and will use this information to identify conservation objectives under different conservation scenarios.

Black Skimmers - Credit: Alan Cressler

Affiliation(s): Southeast CSC, South Central CSC

Principal Investigator(s):
  • James Cronin (USGS Wetland and Aquatic Research Center)

Start Date: 2016

End Date: September 2018

Project Status: In Progress

Tags: CSC, Southeast CSC, 2016, Black Skimmer, Rynchops niger, Gull-billed Tern, Gelochelidon nilotica, Bayesian networks, biological objectives, habitat objectives, sea-level rise, influence diagram, Wildlife and Plants, Education, Modeling and Tools, Birds, Climate and Ecosystem Modeling

Fiscal Year: FY 2016 Projects