Coastal Bird Conservation

Full Title: Designing effective stewardship and post-restoration management plans through co-production to protect vulnerable Gulf of Mexico coastal birds

This project will identify uncertainties around the effects of coastal bird stewardship and habitat management actions.

Lead Investigator: Nicole L. Michel, National Audubon Society, Nicole.Michel@audubon.org

Natural Resource Managers: Abby Darrah (Audubon Delta), Jeff Gleason (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), Erik Johnson (Audubon Delta), and Amanda Phillips (Edward Wisner Donation Trust) 

Federal Program Officer/Point of Contact: Frank Parker (frank.parker@noaa.gov)

Award Amount: $99,758

Award Period: This project began in September 2021 and will end in August 2022.

Why it matters: Coastal breeding birds have experienced dramatic population declines over the last 50 years. Coastal birds are highly susceptible to human disturbance as well as habitat loss and alteration — both of which have been identified as major threats to shorebirds and seabirds across the northern Gulf of Mexico. Coastal bird conservation plans have recommended increasing stewardship efforts among stakeholders to reduce human disturbance, and prioritizing management that increases the conservation value of beaches. This project will inform conservation decision making by quantifying and reducing uncertainties around the effects of stewardship and habitat management actions on populations of coastal birds in the Gulf of Mexico.

What the team is doing: The project team will identify the decision and its context, hold two in-person or virtual Goal-Defining, Objective-Defining, and Work Planning meetings, form a technical advisory group, and iteratively discuss key assumptions, models, approaches, data sources, and decision-making criteria.

Expected outcome: The research findings from this project will assist resource management partners in identifying the most effective stewardship strategies for the conservation of sites and coastal bird colonies they manage. Through co-production, the project team will identify the most effective ways to communicate the lessons learned to resource managers across the Gulf for incorporation into their management plans at the appropriate time. The team will develop diagrams detailing how different decisions influence success metrics. The team will then use an analytic technique called Expected Value of Information to determine the hypothesis that is the most feasible and potentially the most impactful; this will be the focal hypothesis around which a Research Plan is designed.