Developing an Avian-based Biological Condition Gradient (BCG) Model for the Upper Tana Watershed, Kenya
July 2021 - May 2025
- The Nature Conservancy
The Biological Condition Gradient model (BCG) has been used as a simple standardized categorical assessment tool to guide protection and restoration decisions in aquatic and marine ecosystems. The approach identifies ecological attributes of a focal ecosystem type and evaluates how the attributes change along a tiered gradient of biological condition. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has proposed adapting the BCG assessment method to bird communities in the Upper Tana watershed, Kenya, to illustrate the ecological and biodiversity value of the land management and restoration activities in riparian and upland habitats of the TNC-Nairobi Water Fund. The project includes 1) developing a conceptual BCG framework applicable to riparian and upland habitats with Condition Tiers along a stress axis, 2) development of Condition Attributes relevant to expected bird community response, building on previous work in the Upper Tana, 3) identifying methods for field sampling bird presence and abundance, and habitat condition variables along the Condition gradient, 4) incorporating spatial land use into the analysis, 5) evaluating sensitivity and replicability of each Attribute, and 6) developing a decision model to inform conservation planning for avian species in the area affected by the Upper Tana-Nairobi Water Fund project. The project will be conducted by a Kenyan student enrolled at the University of Maine and working in coordination with researchers at the National Museums of Kenya and with cooperation from The Nature Conservancy in Nairobi.