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Tuesday, February 7 • 10:40am - 11:00am
Technical Session. The Art of Conservation Planning for Waterfowl in the Midwest – Does It Matter How We Allocate Our Resources?

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AUTHORS: Heath M. Hagy, J. Conner England, Joshua M. Osborn, Aaron P. Yetter, Jeffrey M. Levengood, Margaret Kenna*; Illinois Natural History Survey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

ABSTRACT: State and Federal Agencies, non-profit organizations, and other entities have processes for allocating wildlife habitat resources across the landscape. For example, the Upper Mississippi River and Great Lakes Region Joint Venture establishes habitat objectives for non-breeding waterfowl in the Midwest using daily ration models to estimate energetic carrying capacity.  Agencies and other conservation partners use these stepped-down habitat objectives to prioritize wetland restoration, enhancement, and creation activities.  Although much progress has been made in the 30 years since the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) was implemented, agencies still struggle to allocate habitat conservation activities in locations and at scales where birds can respond to and maximally benefit from wetland conservation actions.  We conducted research on lesser scaup (Aythya affinis) to develop a predictive model to simulate their response to habitat conservation activities on the landscape.  The continental lesser scaup population declined by more than 40% from the late 1970s to the mid-2000s, and currently the breeding population is still 20% below the NAWMP goal.  Research indicates that poor condition of females resulting from inadequate food sources during spring migration may be contributing to reduced populations.  We determined food density and foraging behavior at foraging and random locations in wetlands across the Midwest during spring migration 2012–2015 to better understand the response of lesser scaup to food densities.  Using this information, we created an individual-based model to predict how lesser scaup would respond to habitat enhancement and creation along the Illinois River, an important spring migration stopover site in the Midwest. We will demonstrate how conservation planners can use this model to evaluate the habitat conservation activities before expending valuable resources to maximize benefit for lesser scaup.

Tuesday February 7, 2017 10:40am - 11:00am CST
Grand Ballroom D