IMBCR for PLJV: Answering Partners’ Management Questions
Last year, the PLJV partnership began collecting data through the Integrated Bird Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions (IMBCR) program to provide much-needed, scientifically defensible estimates of bird distribution and abundance that will help target and evaluate habitat projects throughout the region. Now that the 2016 IMBCR for PLJV data have been completed, PLJV is working with state and federal partners to identify management questions that can be served by analysis of IMBCR data.
“IMBCR data are powerful and unique in their ability to answer broad-scale management questions,” says PLJV biologist Kyle Taylor, who is analyzing the data and creating habitat models and range-wide population density estimates for priority species. “For the past six months, we’ve been talking with partner organizations to identify their biggest information needs.”
Much of the early feedback we’ve received from our state partners has been related to grassland bird management needs outlined in individual State Wildlife Action Plans. A number of states have expressed interest in questions related to demonstrating how species respond to land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program and the Migratory Bird SAFE, as well as questions related to dealing with woody encroachment and shortgrass prairie conservation initiatives led by individual state partners. PLJV is partnering with research staff and managers in Colorado, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico to find new ways of analyzing bird habitat information collected using IMBCR to inform conservation delivery work.
Information requests have run the gamut from general to specific. Many states have asked for species distribution and habitat selection models to better understand where priority birds are located and estimate population abundance. Other questions are related to gamebird management, such as habitat relationships of Wild Turkey to riparian habitat conditions and shrub requirements for Northern Bobwhite and Scaled Quail. Other partners are interested in monitoring landscape change and bird response related to wildfires, such as the March 2017 fires that raged across parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.
“The end-goal is to relate landscape conditions to population estimates of priority grassland birds—and to be able to relate conservation delivery action from our partners directly to population changes for grassland birds,” Taylor noted. “The hope is to add rigor and precision to how we do conservation outreach and planning and to measure success on a per-bird basis.”
Taylor organized an advisory group, comprised of state management partners, to help guide and prioritize the data analysis. The group will identify cross-state management concerns, prioritize smaller-scale management questions, and provide important local biological knowledge to improve the resulting models and decision support tools. Look for results of these efforts in future issues of the Playa Post.