Conservation of migratory birds requires understanding the distribution of and potential threats to their migratory habitats. However, although migratory birds are protected under international treaties, few maps have been available to represent migration at a landscape scale useful to target conservation efforts or inform the siting of wind energy developments that may affect migratory birds. To fill this gap, we developed models that predict where four groups of birds concentrate or stopover during their migration through the state of Wyoming, USA: raptors, wetland, riparian and sparse grassland birds. The models were based on existing literature and expert knowledge concerning bird migration behavior and ecology and validated using expert ratings and known occurrences. There was significant agreement between migratory occurrence data and migration models for all groups except raptors, and all models ranked well with experts. We measured the overlap between the migration concentration models and a predictive model of wind energy development to assess the potential exposure of migratory birds to wind development and illustrate the utility of migratory concentration models for landscape-scale planning. Wind development potential is high across 15% of Wyoming, and 73% of this high potential area intersects important migration concentration areas. From 5.2% to 18.8% of each group’s important migration areas was represented within this high wind potential area, with the highest exposures for sparse grassland birds and the lowest for riparian birds. Our approach could be replicated elsewhere to fill critical data gaps and better inform conservation priorities and landscape-scale planning for migratory birds.
Modeling the Distribution of Migratory Bird Stopovers to Inform Landscape-Scale Siting of Wind Development
Title: Modeling the Distribution of Migratory Bird Stopovers to Inform Landscape-Scale Siting of Wind Development
October 02, 2013
Journal: Plos One
Publisher: Plos One
Pocewicz, A.; Estes-Zumpf, W.; Andersen, M.; Copeland, H.; Keinath, D.; Griscom, H. (2013). Modeling the Distribution of Migratory Bird Stopovers to Inform Landscape-Scale Siting of Wind Development. Plos One, 8(10), 1-18.