RWO 96: Understanding the Role of Muleshoe National Wildlife ...
July 2015 - December 2018
- USGS SSP Program
Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge is a primary roosting area for wintering sandhill cranes. However, the arrangement, connectivity, and availability of vital habitats for cranes across the region, and in association with the refuge, have not been assessed despite the significance to the persistence of this important game and cultural species. Approximately 82% of the Mid-Continent Population of sandhill cranes winter on the Southern High Plains of Texas with, 3 of the 4 distinct geographic breeding affiliations spending greater than 60% of their winter on the Southern High Plains. Thus, land management practices on Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding private lands influence the distribution and overwinter survival of cranes in this region. We are collaborating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to address this information need. Understanding the arrangement, connectivity, and availability of habitat for cranes in this region is vital toward the development of sound management strategies for the refuge and surrounding landscapes. This is especially important for long-term conservation actions, due to the Southern High Plains being projected to become hotter and drier, with decreased, yet greater intensity of precipitation events due to climate change.