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G.2-2: Incorporating climate science into conservation planning for waterfowl during the non-breeding period

Presented by Michael L Schummer - Email: mlschumm@esf.edu

Waterfowl are highly mobile during the non-breeding period with movements dictated by ultimate and proximate mechanisms. Evolution of movements are largely beyond control, whereas conservation planners can react to proximate mechanisms including changes in food resources, disturbance and refugia, and weather. Evidence suggests that reduced weather severity can and has led to change in timing of migrations and distributions of waterfowl during the non-breeding period. However, changes in distributions among waterfowl differ because of variability in how species react to proximate mechanisms influencing migration. Further, while the climate trends towards less severe winter weather (e.g., warmer temperatures, decreased snow depth), variability in weather continues, resulting in highly disparate non-breeding distributions of waterfowl among years. This variability makes the temporal and geographic distribution of conservation efforts during the non-breeding period difficult because these efforts encompass the majority of the annual cycle and geographically spans much of North America. During this period of waterfowl redistribution, climate science has advanced rapidly, with greater capacity to predict both seasonal and long-term climate. We will summarize our current state of knowledge of waterfowl redistribution during the non-breeding period, address implications for waterfowl conservation planning, describe potential impacts to hunter satisfaction, hunter numbers, license sales, rural economies, and conservation funding, provide an understanding of the intersection of waterfowl and climate science, and discuss paths forward towards increasing our capacity to proactively produce applied science to inform waterfowl conservation planning efforts.
Session: Migration & Winter Distribution Changes (Thursday, August 29, 10:30 to 12:00)