Integrating dynamic processes into waterfowl conservation prioritization tools
Aim: Traditional approaches for including species' distributions in conservation planning have presented them as long-term averages of variation. Like these approaches, the main waterfowl conservation targeting tool in the United States Prairie Pothole Region (US PPR) is based primarily on long-term averaged distributions of breeding pairs. While this tool has supported valuable conservation, it does not explicitly consider spatiotemporal changes in spring wetland availability and does not assess wetland availability during the brood rearing period. We sought to develop a modelling approach and targeting tool that incorporated these types of dynamics for breeding waterfowl pairs and broods. This goal also presented an opportunity for us to compare predictions from a traditional targeting tool based on long-term averages to predictions from spatiotemporal models. Such a comparison facilitated tests of the underlying assumption that this traditional targeting tool could provide an effective surrogate measure for conservation objectives such as brood abundance and climate refugia.
Location: US PPR.
Methods: We developed spatiotemporal models of waterfowl pair and brood abundance within the US PPR. We compared the distributions predicted by these models and assessed similarity with the averaged pair data that is used to develop the current waterfowl targeting tool.
Results: Results demonstrated low similarity and correlation between the averaged pair data and spatiotemporal brood and pair models. The spatiotemporal pair model distributions did not serve as better surrogates for brood abundance than the averaged pair data.
Main conclusions: Our study underscored the contributions that the current targeting tool has made to waterfowl conservation but also suggested that conservation plans in the region would benefit from the consideration of inter- and intra-annual dynamics. We suggested that using only the averaged pair data and derived products might result in the omission of 58% - 88% of important pair and brood habitat from conservation plans.
[Correction added on 5 February 2021, after first online publication: 'Results' text has been modified and the 'Main conclusions' omission percentages have been corrected.].
Publication titleDiversity and Distributions
Department/SchoolSchool of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Ltd
Place of publication9600 Garsington Rd, Oxford, England, Oxon, Ox4 2Dg
Rights statementCopyright 2021 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/