Climate Change and Shorebird Habitat: A New Assessment Tool

Written by Meredith Gutowski/WHSRN


Along the U.S. Atlantic coast, at risk from climate change are more than 100 nests of the Federally threatened Piping Plover at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Virginia; valuable acres of habitat for Red Knots at Monomoy NWR in Massachusetts; and prime nesting habitat for American Oystercatchers at Edwin B. Forsythe NWR in New Jersey. All three sites are members of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN). While managers know that these sites and species are vulnerable, until recently they haven’t had any systematic way of assessing or prioritizing habitats and strategies for climate-change adaptation actions.

Thanks to Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences’s new “Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for Shorebird Habitat,” managers now have that capability. This innovative, Excel-based assessment and decision-making tool is the product of a partnership agreement between Manomet and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Northeast Region’s Division of Refuges. This partnership enabled Refuge Biologist Dorie Stolley to work for Manomet for a year, funded by the generosity of individual Manomet donors concerned about the impacts of climate change on shorebirds.

Refuges comprise more than half of the 83 WHSRN sites to date, therefore partnering with USFWS was a natural choice. With input from refuge managers and biologists, Stolley successfully designed the tool and piloted it at the three coastal refuges mentioned above. Participants at each workshop included federal, state, non-profit, and academic partners, as well as local refuge volunteer groups.

The full article about this new tool is available in the 10 September 2010 issue of WHSRNews.

A video of Dorie Stolley presenting an overview of the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for Shorebird Habitat at the USFWS Northeast Regional Office can be viewed via the USFWS Video Archives (45 minutes, .wmv file; Note: there is a glitch between the 3- and 6-minute marker).

For more information, please contact Dorie Stolley; or, Meredith Gutowski, Conservation Specialist, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences; or, any of the three National Wildlife Refuge pilot sites.


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