Bringing IWJV Science to Partners

The biological complexities associated with birds and their habitats – and all that we don’t know about these ecological relationships – make habitat conservation challenging in any region. That set of issues is greatly confounded in the Intermountain West due to the tremendous size and ecological diversity of the region. Yet, a clear need exists to increase the efficiency of habitat conservation, stretch the conservation dollar, and achieve tangible biological outcomes. The path forward requires identifying priorities – and the Intermountain West Joint Venture has made some significant strides over the last year in this direction. 

Josh Vest and Patrick Donnelly, IWJV science staff, have been traveling the West to discuss the science and biological planning priorities of the IWJV with a multitude of other IWJV partners in Albuquerque, Portland, Denver and Sacramento.

The IWJV recently published a series of science planning documents that identify conservation science priorities and outline the principles, methods, and results used to formulate the strategies.

The plans, developed with the IWJV Technical Committee, identify wetlands as the highest priority habitat for future science investments. Further, the plans list wetland conservation in the Southern Oregon and Northeastern California (SONEC) and Great Salt Lake (GSL) landscapes as two of the highest priorities for investments in landscape scale conservation planning to conserve habitat for wetland birds within the Intermountain West.

Approximately 25% of the emergent wetland abundance in the Intermountain West occurs in these two regions alone.  As a result they provide crucial migration and breeding habitats with some of the largest concentrations of wetland dependent birds in the Intermountain West.   This concentration of high biological value is consistent with the IWJV’s conservation philosophy.  It allows limited conservation resources to be focused in relatively small areas with the potential of high biological payoff.

The IWJV’s series of planning documents also identify Greater Sandhill Cranes as a surrogate species in support of a broader wetland habitat conservation strategy intended to address habitat-limiting factors for wetland-dependent birds outside of those two focal landscapes.   Greater Sandhill Cranes exhibit broad connectivity to partners across the Intermountain West, have high population reliance to the region, exhibit strong relationships to wetland habitats amenable to existing conservation programs, and posses sufficient population-habitat data to inform planning models. 

Questions for the IWJV science staff can be directed to their office in Missoula, Montana.  Contact information can be found here.

Partners present during recent regional disscussions:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Ducks Unlimited

Natural Resources Conservation Service

Oregon State University

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory

Playa Lakes Joint Venture

California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Central Valley Joint Venture

San Francisco Bay Joint Venture

The Wetlands Conservancy

Point Reyes Bird Conservancy

California Waterfowl Association

U.S. Geological Survey

Southern Rockies Landscape Conservation Cooperative

Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative

California Landscape Conservation Cooperative

Great Basin Landscape Conservation Cooperative