Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: West Virginia
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

West Virginia Project

Development of a habitat restoration and conservation prioritization tool for songbirds and mussels in the Appalachian Mountains

September 2006 - December 2009


Participating Agencies

  • Science Support Partnership

This project will develop an online GIS based decision analysis tool (DAT) specific to the Appalachian Mountains that will answer the question: What specific lands do we need to restore, protect, and/or manage to most effectively achieve conservation objectives for X species or guilds of species? The online interface will allow biologists, managers, and administrators to query a database of biological information on species and habitats, and administrative information such as previous restorations and acquisitions, land ownerships and acquisition authority, and existing funding sources allowing the individual to build their own model to answer a specific question at multiple spatial scales. Continuous maintenance of the system will improve communication and provide a ready source of information for integrating habitat objectives and actions. The system will be based on current professional knowledge and existing databases with the capacity and requirement to be continually updated with new information. Many of the habitat objectives will be interpreted from existing plans such as various bird conservation plans (North American Waterfowl Management Plan, Partners in Flight, US Shorebird Conservation Plan etc.), T&E Recovery Plans, and the new state comprehensive conservation plans. The Appalachian Mountains harbor many of the most biologically significant ecosystems in North America. With the exception of the State of California, the epicenter of biodiversity occurs in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. From a global perspective, aquatic biodiversity in the southern Appalachians goes unmatched, with its wealth of freshwater fish and mussel species, not to mention the global importance of the Mountains as a principle migratory route for dozens of species of neotropical birds. The biodiversity of the Mountains and the unique interconnectedness of the Range make this area the perfect subject for the development of this kind of tool. The objective of this project is to prioritize specific on-the-ground habitat restoration and conservation activities based on identified species habitat needs and sociopolitical factors through the development of an internet-based, interactive query tool.