Plenary: Monday, March 14, 2011

Climate change and prairie wetlands: implications for migratory birds

Susan KagenThe rapid rates of climate change in concert with land use conversion pose unprecedented challenges to wetland and avian conservation across the North American prairies. Although wetland-dependent bird populations have persisted through millennia of both climate stasis and extreme variability throughout their evolutionary history, their future is uncertain. I will explore paleoclimates, external and anthropogenic causes of climate change, approaches to projecting the effects of climate change on species and habitats, and the associated uncertainties. I will briefly discuss current interdisciplinary work that addresses the links between climate, ecosystem processes, wetland management, and waterbird communities in North American prairie wetland systems. This effort is downscaling climate data using dynamical approaches and developing derivative models that forecast climate effects on palustrine wetland landscapes, riverine systems, and their associated bird communities.

Dr. Susan K. Skagen is a research wildlife biologist with the US Geological Survey Fort Collins Science Center where she has conducted research in support of migratory bird conservation for nearly 23 years. Her recent work has focused primarily on shorebirds migrating across midcontinental North America, landbirds migrating across the arid southwest, and population demography of shortgrass prairie birds. Her current work examines these systems within the context of climate change.

Plenary: Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gary KrapuGary Krapu began studying spring staging ecology of sandhill cranes in the Central Platte River Valley (CPRV) of south-central Nebraska in 1977 while project leader for the Platte River Ecology Study.  The Platte River Ecology Study Special Research Report and other publications resulting from his research in the 1970s have been a key source of information used by wildlife managers when addressing sandhill crane habitat needs over the past 30 years.  From the early to mid-1990s, Dr. Krapu observed changes from the 1970s in diurnal movements of cranes while in the CPRV and in their condition based on measurements taken on storm-killed cranes. He suspected environmental changes may be underway in the CPRV that could have adverse consequences to the Mid-continent Population (MCP). Drawing on his observations and other identified research needs, Dr. Krapu initiated research through the USGS Priority Ecosystem Studies program to assess the current capacity of the CPRV to meet crane needs. Taking advantage of emerging technologies, he and co-worker Dave Brandt expanded this research effort to address key information needs of crane managers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Russia. Dr. Krapu will begin by describing the geographic distribution and movements of 4 subpopulations of MCP cranes throughout the annual cycle based on information obtained from individuals tagged with PTTs in the CPRV and North Platte River Valley in early spring.  Following this introduction, he will address key research findings from recent sandhill crane studies in the CPRV with a focus primarily on results with important implications to sandhill crane management.