Laying the groundwork for science-based management of colonial waterbirds
July 2018 - December 2021
- USGS-SSP Program
Colonial nesting seabirds and long-legged wading birds (inclusively waterbirds) of the eastern United States span geographic boundaries and jurisdictions of conservation agencies in 19 states, as well as adjacent provinces in maritime Canada. Despite many management concerns for colonial nesting waterbirds, broad, coordinated annual surveys similar to those for waterfowl, American Woodcock, and Sandhill Crane are not conducted, and colonial seabirds were singled out explicitly as poorly sampled by creators of the Breeding Bird Survey. There continues to be no centralized repository of information about each state’s survey plans, no universally accepted standardized survey and data recording protocols, no active and centralized data storage location or data sharing agreements, no general plan to examine species’ population trends with the new and archived data, and no plan for disseminating these findings. Additionally, there has been no pre-survey guidance to ensure that the gathered data will meet requirements for species’ assessments, particularly those listed as species of greatest conservation need, state endangered or threatened, or with potential for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act. The goal of our project is to increase our knowledge about current limitations in survey and monitoring, and associated data storage needs for colonial waterbirds in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast, and to better understand distributions, population trends, and threats to these species in this area. In addition, the project aims to resurrect and improve the Colonial Waterbirds Database (CWBD) for improving data archiving and accessibility for informing species conservation and management across the area. This project is a collaboration of the US Geological Survey Maine Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the University of Maine. We will evaluate contents of the USGS-managed CWBD database and update it with data collected within the eastern US since the database became inactive, display species trends for select focal species graphically within the revised CWBD user interface, and evaluate trends and conservation goals of the species with a sufficient data archive.