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Integrated Waterbird Management & Monitoring Program IWMM. Andy Wilson USGS Patuxent , Laurel, Maryland [email protected] What is the IWMM Program?. The integration of management, data and decisions at the local, regional and flyway scale.

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Integrated Waterbird Management

& Monitoring Program


Andy Wilson

USGS Patuxent, Laurel, Maryland

[email protected]

What is the IWMM Program?

The integration of management, data and decisions at the local, regional and flyway scale.

Problem:difficulty of managing wetlands for a wide range of species, in changing landscapes

Where did IWMM come from?

“What is the best way to manage this wetland?”

“What is this wetlands highest and greatest contribution to flyway conservation efforts?”

“How should this wetland be managed to optimize stopover quality?”

“How does the bird use and management of this wetland compare to other wetland units?”

“How do I allocate funds among wetland units in an informed and transparent way?”

“Which wetlands are important to waterfowl …. shorebirds ….. wading birds?”

“If I allocate more funds and staff which areas will significantly increase this region’s contribution to flyway conservation efforts?”

“Where, when and in what numbers are migratory birds using stopover habitats?”

“Where in a flyway should we focus acquisition and restoration activities?”

“Are there important sites within this flyway that are not protected?”

Key management decisions
Key Management Decisions stopover habitats?”

Flyway: when, where, how much habitat?


Regional: optimal allocation of funds

Local: optimal management strategies

Adaptive Management

Linking Management Decisions with Data stopover habitats?”

  • Improved Resource Contributions

  • Good Decisions

    • Supported by defensible data

  • Clearly Documented Decisions

    • Promote understanding of decision making process

      • Reduce controversy

IWMM Evolution stopover habitats?”

  • Structured decision making workshops at NCTC

    • Need for integration across spatial scales

  • Steering Group formed in 2009

  • Protocol Development in 2010

    • Lots of partners

  • Model development 2010-2012

  • Pilot Season 2010/2011

  • Operational later in 2011 or 2012

  • Build organically

    • Program success will depend on development of useful tools

Flyway stopover habitats?”

Identify Critical Waterbird Sites

  • Conservation Priorities

  • Habitat Deficiencies

Local Actions

Determine Optimal Wetland Management Scenario

  • Habitat Conditions

  • Focal Species

  • Monitoring Data:

  • Habitat Quality

  • Bird Use

  • Evaluation of Site Contribution

State / Region

Determine Funding Distribution

  • Land Acquisition Priorities

  • Conservation Priorities

  • Bird Use:Cost Analysis

  • Site Potential

  • Allocation of Staff & Funds

  • Management Decisions:

  • Mgmt. Actions

  • Costs

  • Land Acquisition Priorities

  • Conservation Priorities

Flyway model
Flyway Model stopover habitats?”

Components include GIS data layers and biological parameters (from literature)

Flyway Model stopover habitats?”

Path 1 = 1706 Birds

Path 2 = 530 Birds

Regional and local allocation: cost effectiveness stopover habitats?”




Bird Use (B)





AH = Available Habitat

B= Contribution of Bird-Days

2010 2011 pilot season
2010/2011 Pilot Season stopover habitats?”

  • Test basic Vegetation Survey and Bird Survey Protocols

  • Highlight key constraints for effective data collection

  • Recommend modification for basic methods and development of more detailed techniques where needed

  • Use “real data” to test Structured Decision Making Models

Vegetation Surveys twice per season stopover habitats?”

  • Designed to be simple – mass participation!

  • Based on expert knowledge - >20 biologists consulted

Weekly bird surveys
Weekly Bird Surveys stopover habitats?”

Use site condition to make predictions
Use “site condition” to make predictions… stopover habitats?”

  • The model will allow us to predict change in BUDs due to changes in habitat (ultimately management)

  • Scores all units on a comparable scale for each guild

e.g. site 3 is a diving duck site – flyway model might suggest it would contribute more as a dabbler site

Bird-use days/ha (dabblers) predicted to increase from 40/ha to 250/ha

∆ buds on a 10 ha site = 2,100

∆ buds on a 200 ha site = 42,000

Moving forward
Moving forward to 250/ha

  • Lots of challenges remain:

    • Protocols, large areas, inaccessible wetlands

    • Very complex and ambitious program, steep learning curve, progress may not be linear!

    • Long-term funding

    • Scale

  • Other taxa?

  • Four regional teams (NA, SA, UM, LM)

  • Online data system

  • Ensure we keep learning lessons!

Acknowledgements to 250/ha

  • Over 60 individuals - program development

  • Over 90 participants in pilot season

  • Partners:

    • FWS, USGS

    • State agencies

    • Ducks Unlimited

    • LCCs and JVs

    • Universities

    • Lincoln Park Zoo

    • PRBO

      Hal Laskowski