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A Sampling of Recent Highlights

Noteworthy at PRBO


Our newest web tool takes the measure of climate change in the Pacific Northwest. It models the breeding locations and densities of 26 bird species under current and future climate conditions, to inform conservation planning. Explore the online tool at http://data.prbo.org/apps/nplcc.

From Canada to Latin America, the Pacific Flyway Shorebird Survey increases understanding of the conservation needs of major bird populations. As part of a broadening international effort, we helped design and implement a shorebird survey in Upper Panama Bay. PRBO’s Technology group, together with Diana Eusse of the Colombian group Calidris, expanded this project into Spanish, our first bilingual application.

Wildlife-friendly agriculture supports Sandhill Cranes and other birds in winter in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Results of PRBO’s two-year study at Staten Island, owned by The Nature Conservancy, detail win-win solutions for agriculture and wildlife in California’s Central Valley.
A Dunlin wears a minute transmitter (thread-like antenna visible lower right). Photo by Ryan DiGaudio, PRBO.

Tracking—21st century style. Technology gives PRBO the means of tracing birds’ movements closely. This is crucial as rapid environmental change impacts flyways. In the Klamath Basin and California’s Central Valley, we placed micro-radios on 50-plus Long-billed Dowitchers and Dunlin. Now we are traveling, by road and small aircraft, to listen for their signals. To chart songbird travels, our team from the Palomarin Field Station placed “geolocator” tags on additional Golden-crowned Sparrows and, for the first time, on Hermit Thrushes. We aim to recover the tiny data recorders when these migrants return next winter.

Rice. California’s Sacramento Valley, crucial to wildlife, is a rice-dominated landscape. Rice-growing practices can improve or create bird habitat; they can also reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Can both kinds of benefits be obtained? Are there trade-off’s? PRBO ecologists are now addressing these questions in collaborative research with the Environmental Defense Fund.

Between a rock and a hard place. The combination of housing development and climate change is much harder on breeding birds in California than either impact considered by itself. This is the focus of a new scientific paper from PRBO in the journal Landscape Ecology.

Marine protection, the first five years. By studying the patterns of seabirds that forage near the coast, we are helping evaluate California’s new Marine Protected Areas. A PRBO paper on this research appears in the journal Marine Ornithology.
Students from Novato High School help monitor the Hamilton Field restoration project, on the edge of northern San Francisco Bay. They collect data on the soil (left and center) and on birds, with PRBO educator Lishka Arata (right). Photos by Annie Schmidt, PRBO.