Mountain Birdwatch Phase 2:
Monitoring high-elevation birds in
the Atlantic Northern Forest
Julie Hart & Dan Lambert
Sugar...
NH-ME BBS routes
Why high-elevation birds?
Bicknell’s Thrush
•  Endemic
•  Habitat specialist
•  Restricted range
•  Small population
•  Uncertain status
•  Conserva...
Past Limitations
•  Count protocols vary
•  Limited statistical inference
•  Detectability issues
•  Occupancy estimates
•...
Mountain Birdwatch II
•  VISION: Create a unified program
that spans the entire breeding
range of Bicknell’s Thrush
•  Org...
Addressing the Challenge
•  2006 – NECBM Mountain Bird Group
•  2007 – International Bicknell’s Thrush
Conservation Group
...
Project Goals
1.  Measure changes in distribution
and abundance with an emphasis
on SGCN.
2.  Investigate the relationship...
Project Goals (cont.)
•  Estimate BITH population size
•  Investigate the influence of:
– Habitat
– Climate
– Red squirrel...
Spatially Balanced Sampling
•  GRTS Survey Design
–  BITH habitat model
–  Trails and roads
•  Cost Surface Layer
–  Effor...
Spatially Balanced Sampling
•  GRTS Survey Design
–  BITH habitat model
–  Trails and roads
•  Cost Surface Layer
–  Effor...
Optimal Point Count Method
•  Trained volunteers and technicians
survey once a year during 3-week
window in June
•  Survey...
Target Species
SPECIES RATIONALE
YBFL NF indicator species
BCCH Niche overlap with BOCH
BOCH NF indicator species
WIWR Abu...
5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Two Pilot Protocols
Time of
detection
in 1...
Pilot Results
•  519 points surveyed
–  437 using simple counts
–  82 using presence/absence
–  144 BITH in first 10 minut...
Data management
•  Georeferenced database
•  Standardized fields aligned to AKN
•  AKN archive
•  Opportunity to analyze a...
Tools for Conservation
•  Public access to data and
visualizations via AKN
Tools for Conservation
Tools for Conservation
•  Public access to data and
visualizations via AKN
•  Wind farm siting assessment
• Of highest wind
potential areas,
only 5.4% is in
BITH habitat
• Of all potential
BITH habitat, 84%
falls within the
high...
Tools for Conservation
•  Public access to data and
visualizations via AKN
•  Wind farm siting assessment
•  Range-wide an...
Climate and Habitat Covariates
•  Elevation
•  Slope
•  Aspect
•  Topographical index
•  Surficial geology
•  Latitude/lon...
Tools for Conservation
•  Public access to data and
visualizations via AKN
•  Wind farm siting assessment
•  Range-wide an...
Winter Habitat Restoration
•  Restore historical broadleaf forest in
the Dominican Republic
•  Improve enforcement of prot...
Winter Habitat Restoration
Population	
  Size:	
  Our	
  Vision2008
2012
2016
2020
2024
2028
2032
2036
2040
2044
2048
2052...
Meeting Citizen Science
Challenges
•  Generate matching
funds
•  Balance quantity with quality of info
•  Observer effects...
Next Steps
Acknowledgements
A special thanks to Mountain Birdwatch volunteers
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Mountain Birdwatch Phase 2: Monitoring High-elevation birds in the Atlantic Northern Forest

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The expansion of Mountain Birdwatch, a citizen science program that monitors high-elevation songbirds in the Northeast, to include more species and more robust monitoring techniques.

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Mountain Birdwatch Phase 2: Monitoring High-elevation birds in the Atlantic Northern Forest

  1. 1. Mountain Birdwatch Phase 2: Monitoring high-elevation birds in the Atlantic Northern Forest Julie Hart & Dan Lambert Sugarloaf Mountain, NH
  2. 2. NH-ME BBS routes Why high-elevation birds?
  3. 3. Bicknell’s Thrush •  Endemic •  Habitat specialist •  Restricted range •  Small population •  Uncertain status •  Conservation priority = Vulnerable
  4. 4. Past Limitations •  Count protocols vary •  Limited statistical inference •  Detectability issues •  Occupancy estimates •  Unable to estimate population size, assess limiting factors, or adequately model metapopulations •  Grumpy editors
  5. 5. Mountain Birdwatch II •  VISION: Create a unified program that spans the entire breeding range of Bicknell’s Thrush •  Organizations involved: – Vermont Center for Ecostudies – Bird Studies Canada – Canadian Wildlife Service – White Mountain National Forest
  6. 6. Addressing the Challenge •  2006 – NECBM Mountain Bird Group •  2007 – International Bicknell’s Thrush Conservation Group •  2008 – Develop protocol and SOPs •  2009 – Begin regional coordination •  2010 – Export model to Newfoundland and Appalachian Mountain BCR www.bicknellsthrush.org
  7. 7. Project Goals 1.  Measure changes in distribution and abundance with an emphasis on SGCN. 2.  Investigate the relationship between breeding ground population status of BITH and winter habitat availability. 3.  Produce tools and data to guide stewardship and conservation.
  8. 8. Project Goals (cont.) •  Estimate BITH population size •  Investigate the influence of: – Habitat – Climate – Red squirrel / cone mast dynamics – Hg exposure – Calcium availability – Forestry practices
  9. 9. Spatially Balanced Sampling •  GRTS Survey Design –  BITH habitat model –  Trails and roads •  Cost Surface Layer –  Effort as distance nearest road •  Flexible –  add new sites over time –  intensify sampling within pre-defined strata
  10. 10. Spatially Balanced Sampling •  GRTS Survey Design –  BITH habitat model –  Trails and roads •  Cost Surface Layer –  Effort as distance nearest road •  Flexible –  add new sites over time –  intensify sampling within pre-defined strata
  11. 11. Optimal Point Count Method •  Trained volunteers and technicians survey once a year during 3-week window in June •  Surveys begin 30 min before sunrise •  Target 10 focal species plus Red Squirrel
  12. 12. Target Species SPECIES RATIONALE YBFL NF indicator species BCCH Niche overlap with BOCH BOCH NF indicator species WIWR Abundant, easy to identify BITH Top conservation priority, specialist SWTH Niche overlap with BITH HETH Niche overlap with SWTH BLPW NF indicator species WTSP Abundant, easy to identify, BBS decline FOSP Priority for Canada RESQ Main predator of BITH nests & chicks
  13. 13. 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 Two Pilot Protocols Time of detection in 1-min intervals for BITH simultaneous with Repeated simple counts for all focal species Repeated p/a for all focal species OR 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes
  14. 14. Pilot Results •  519 points surveyed –  437 using simple counts –  82 using presence/absence –  144 BITH in first 10 minutes •  Volunteer feedback –  20 min long time –  Hard to estimate distance by sound –  Most would continue with MBW •  Team of statisticians running variance estimates using occupancy, time-of- detection, n-mixture models, and distance estimation
  15. 15. Data management •  Georeferenced database •  Standardized fields aligned to AKN •  AKN archive •  Opportunity to analyze and visualize using AKN applications •  Metadata documented through BMDE
  16. 16. Tools for Conservation •  Public access to data and visualizations via AKN
  17. 17. Tools for Conservation
  18. 18. Tools for Conservation •  Public access to data and visualizations via AKN •  Wind farm siting assessment
  19. 19. • Of highest wind potential areas, only 5.4% is in BITH habitat • Of all potential BITH habitat, 84% falls within the highest wind potential category VT Wind Resource Map from NREL 2007 Wind Farm Siting
  20. 20. Tools for Conservation •  Public access to data and visualizations via AKN •  Wind farm siting assessment •  Range-wide analysis of preferred habitat characteristics
  21. 21. Climate and Habitat Covariates •  Elevation •  Slope •  Aspect •  Topographical index •  Surficial geology •  Latitude/longitude •  Mean daily temperature •  Mean night-time temperature •  Mean precipitation •  Canopy/subcanopy characteristics •  Stem density •  Basal area by class •  Foliar calcium •  Mercury exposure •  Cone mast •  Red Squirrel abundance •  Wind power potential •  Patch size •  Patch composition •  Isolation
  22. 22. Tools for Conservation •  Public access to data and visualizations via AKN •  Wind farm siting assessment •  Range-wide analysis of preferred habitat characteristics •  Assess habitat restoration in Hispaniola
  23. 23. Winter Habitat Restoration •  Restore historical broadleaf forest in the Dominican Republic •  Improve enforcement of protected areas •  Correlate the extent of forest in Hispaniola with abundance of Bicknell’s Thrush on breeding range
  24. 24. Winter Habitat Restoration Population  Size:  Our  Vision2008 2012 2016 2020 2024 2028 2032 2036 2040 2044 2048 2052 2056 2060
  25. 25. Meeting Citizen Science Challenges •  Generate matching funds •  Balance quantity with quality of info •  Observer effects •  Large geographic scope •  Sustaining interest •  Recruiting and training
  26. 26. Next Steps
  27. 27. Acknowledgements A special thanks to Mountain Birdwatch volunteers

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