1. Regional Coordination

The GLC and the USFWS lead a Regional Project Team that comprises subcontractors from Phase 1 and 2, the modeling team (Michigan State University, Biodiversity Research Institute, University of Washington), and staff from Point Blue Conservation Science.

2. Data Management

Working with the Regional Project Team, Point Blue Conservation Science is developing a data management application that facilitates the bulk upload of bird observation data. This data management application will provide project partners with a fully networked and properly described version of their data, means to manage their data online, data security and proper curation, and online tools to generate reports and data visualizations based on feedback from natural resource and wildlife managers and other stakeholders.

3. Data Integration

The data collected in Phases 1 and 2 has been bulk-uploaded to the Midwest Avian Data Center. Point Blue Conservation Science is developing an online tool to facilitate the creation of reports and basic data visualizations. Data will be compiled into the standardized and spatially explicit GIS data format developed for Phase 3 of this study, and integrated with Phase 1-2 survey data to create the largest ever dataset for pelagic waterbird distributions in the Great Lakes.

4. Develop Predictive Models

Model development teams from The University of Washington and Michigan State University are engaged in complementary efforts to use the field data collected in previous phases with data retrieved from publicly available geodatabases such as the National Geophysical Data Center and the Great Lakes Information Network to build predictive maps of the seasonal distribution and relative abundance of avian resources, and to create tools to aid in the calculation and mapping of hotspot probabilities.

Species counts were standardized by using the total transect length to normalize survey effort across datasets. Species and species groups to target for the model were chosen based on conservation priorities for each of the subcontractors, data availability, and species distribution. The modeling team and the Regional Project Team worked together to determine the optimal spatial scale of the analysis that reflects the spacing between survey transects, the link to environmental covariates, and the resolution needed to make conservation and management decisions. Definitions of hotspots were determined using four different modeling approaches: Spatial approaches (kernel density estimation, Getis-Ord Gi* hotspot analysis) and Non-spatial parametric approaches (gamma distribution and lognormal distribution both conditional on presence of the species/group).

5. Engage Natural Resource and Wildlife Managers to Visualize Data Products

Organized by the Great Lakes Commission, the Informing Great Lakes Open Water Bird Management Workshop took place on March 22-23, 2016, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Over thirty stakeholders, including avian researchers, federal and state resource managers and conservationists, met to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Identify management needs for which data can inform decision-making.
  2. Work with conservation managers and the regional project team to determine the best ways to apply the project’s information to support their management activities.
  3. Define user interface options for the analysis tools developed by the project that will be integrated into the Midwest Avian Data Center website.
  4. Gauge the need for continued data collection, monitoring and review of impacts of management actions.

The main purpose of the workshop was to explore how the data collected from bird surveys that took place between September 2012 and June 2014 could be used to address conservation and management needs. This was done in part through breakout sessions that challenged small groups to consider how to apply the data to mock management scenarios. Case studies discussed were related to Long-tailed duck habitat restoration, offshore wind siting, and waterfowl monitoring.

Additionally, an update from the Monitoring and Mapping of Avian Resources over the Great Lakes project team was presented to workshop participants, with presentation from bird surveyors, data management team and the modeling team. Participants also had the opportunity to hear about other related research projects in the Great Lakes basin, including water bird and waterfowl monitoring on the Canadian Great Lakes, and the Great Lakes Migratory Bird Stopover Habitat Portal.

6. Results Dissemination

Project results are made available to other researches and the public in several locations and formats including this website, various presentations at professional conferences, and the distribution of other varied outreach materials.

  • This website is updated regularly to track the project’s progress and introduce new results and deliverables, including final reports and predictive models.
  • A project factsheet will be published on this website in May 2017.
  • In December of 2016, a poster for the project was presented at the Restore America’s Estuaries / The Coastal Society joint conference that was held in New Orleans, LA. The conference program booklet can be downloaded at: Restore America’s Estuaries 8th National Summit on Coastal and Estuarine Restoration and 25th Biennial Meeting of The Coastal Society
  • The GLC is in the process of putting together a series of Power Point slides describing the project. These slides will be shared with the Regional Project Team who will be encouraged to use them to further distribute the project results. The slides will also be posted on this website as a PDF in summer 2017.



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