To address the question of what, where, and how to monitor avian populations, the conservation community must engage in a structured process to identify information needs and priorities for a coordinated bird monitoring strategy that addresses multiple objectives, species, and habitats along the Gulf of Mexico such that operational and financial decisions can be made in a proactive and adaptive manner. Toward that end, members of the Network representing a diverse group of partners from the northern Gulf of Mexico bird conservation community have been working to address the fundamental question of: “how do we develop a cost-effective monitoring strategy for the Gulf Coast avian community and Gulf Coast ecosystem that evaluates on-going, chronic, and acute threats and conservation activities, maximizes learning, and is flexible and holistic enough to identify management triggers and to evaluate new and emerging conservation activities?” Stated another way, how do we maximize the usefulness of avian monitoring data to inform and facilitate avian conservation towards achieving integrated restoration and management of the Gulf ecosystem?
This ad-hoc Working Group has met several times over the last few years to develop a bird monitoring framework for the northern Gulf of Mexico using a Structured Decision Making (SDM) approach. At the core of SDM is a set of well-defined objectives and evaluation criteria. Together they define “what matters” about the decision. To clearly examine and define fundamental objectives for avian monitoring, the group undertook a “stakeholder brainstorming session” where each person was asked to list the core values and/or needs they deemed necessary for underpinning bird monitoring efforts in the Gulf of Mexico. From this exercise, several key concepts repeatedly emerged – scientific rigor; relevancy; state of the system; response to management; and partnerships. The outputs from this exercise have subsequently been vetted across additional partners and stakeholders and are now reflected in the fundamental objective statements that underpin bird monitoring in the northern Gulf of Mexico.
GOAL: Maximize the usefulness of bird monitoring data to inform and advance bird conservation
- Fundamental Objective: Maximize Integration of Monitoring Projects
- Fundamental Objective: Maximize Scientific Rigor of Monitoring Projects
- Fundamental Objective: Maximize Relevance of Monitoring Projects
- Objective: Maximize Understanding of Population and Habitat Status Assessments (i.e., baseline information)
- Objective: Maximize Understanding of Management Actions and their Respective Impacts on Avian Populations and their Habitat
- Objective: Maximize Understanding of Ecological Processes and their Respective Impacts on Avian Populations and their Habitat