PROJECTS: Quantifying and Communicating Ecosystem Services

Connected landscapes facilitate movement for wildlife, including individuals, populations and communities and support more resilient ecosystems. The LCC conservation community desires to maintain connected habitats and restore severed habitats.

  1. Optimizing Connectivity in the Great Lakes Basin to Restore Native Fish Migrations While Controlling Invasive Species

    Scheduled completion date: February 2014
    LCC funding: $277,320
    Peter McIntyre, University of Wisconsin

    Phase 1: Re-establishing connectivity between the Great Lakes and its tributaries
    Ecological connectivity between the Great Lakes and their tributaries is widely impaired, and many agencies and organizations are investing in restoring these connections to enhance fish and wildlife populations. To assist in targeting these investments, spatial data on the location and attributes of barriers (dams and road-stream crossings) throughout the Great Lakes basin is being synthesized and used to analyze the optimal strategy for enhancing connectivity to restore fish migrations. To provide specific insights for a priority species, additional analyses will focus on barriers within the current and historical range of lake sturgeon. The project will provide the basis for a decision-support tool to guide restoration at scales from individual watersheds to the entire basin, and provide a systematic framework for comparing costs (direct economic costs, species invasions) and benefits (connectivity, focal fish species) of barrier removal. To date, we have produced the first comprehensive spatial analysis of potential barriers through the Great Lakes basin (~270,000 sites).

    Phase 2: Optimizing Connectivity in the Great Lakes Basin to Restore Native Fish Migrations
    To assist in targeting conservation investments, spatial data on the location and attributes of barriers (dams and road-stream crossings) throughout the Great Lakes basin is being synthesized and used to analyze the optimal strategy for enhancing connectivity to restore fish migrations.


    Resources:

    Project Update December 2012
    Restoring aquatic ecosystem connectivity requires expanding inventories of both dams and road crossings
     - May 2013 Issue of Frontiers of Ecology and the Environment

     

  2. On-a-wing and a (GIS) Layer: Prioritizing migratory bird habitat along Great Lakes shoreline

    Scheduled completion date: June 2013
    Approved fiscal year 2011 funding: $222,286
    Dave Ewert, The Nature Conservancy

    The Nature Conservancy – Great Lakes Program is leading the development of a scalable (Great Lakes wide, individual lake basin, to coastal reach within a lake basin) rule-based spatial model for ranking the relative importance of coastal lands and waters as habitat for migrating birds. Results will guide conservation actions including land acquisition, land and water management and restoration, and development of wind energy facilities. Specifically, the team will: 1) refine, create and integrate migratory bird stopover habitat models which depict the distribution of potential stopover sites along or near the shorelines of Lakes Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario; and, 2) develop an online portal that will deliver results, models, data and information to conservation decision makers and implementers.

    Resources:
    Final Report: November 2012

  3. Full life-cycle vulnerability assessments for the birds of the upper Midwest and Great Lakes

    Scheduled completion date: August 2013
    Approved fiscal year 2011 funding: $123,431
    Peter Marra, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

    Full life-cycle vulnerability assessments are identifying the effects of climate change on nongame migratory birds that are of conservation concern and breed in the upper Midwest and Great Lakes region. Full life-cycle analyses are critical, as current efforts likely underestimate the vulnerability of migratory land birds due to a focus on assessing only one component of the annual cycle. The approach provides a framework for integrating exposure to climate changes, sensitivity to these changes, and the potential for adaptation in both winter and summer seasons, and accounts for carry-over effects from one season to another. The results of this work will inform regional management by highlighting both local and distant drivers of vulnerability, and provide a model for accounting for the complexities of migration within multi-taxa assessments that can also be applied to other species, such as waterfowl and fish. Bird banding data, life history information, and down-scaled climate data are the primary source data for the project.

  4. National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) mapping

    Scheduled completion date: September 2014
    LCC funding: $200,000
    Brian Huberty, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

    Funding for this project has been leveraged with several other larger projects to improve digital wetland mapping infrastructure for Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. For Wisconsin, the portion of this project is targeting the digital conversion and updating of Wisconsin Wetland Inventory maps for at least six Wisconsin counties. With additional contributions from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Ducks Unlimited and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this LCC supported project will complete an updated wetland mapping dataset for the Midwest.

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