The overall goal of the Wyoming Basin Rapid Ecoregional Assessment (REA) is to provide information that supports regional planning and analysis for the management of ecological resources. The REA provides an assessment of baseline ecological conditions, an evaluation of current risks from drivers of ecosystem change (including energy development, fire, and invasive species), and a predictive capacity for evaluating future risks (including climate change). Additionally, the REA may be used for identifying priority areas for conservation or restoration and for assessing cumulative effects of multiple land uses. The Wyoming Basin REA will address Management Questions developed by the Bureau of Land Management and other agency partners for 8 major biomes and 19 species or species assemblages. The maps developed for addressing Management Questions will be integrated into overall maps of landscape-level ecological values and risks. The maps can be used to address the goals of the REA at a number of levels: for individual species, species assemblages, aquatic and terrestrial systems, and for the entire ecoregion. This allows flexibility in how the products of the REA are compiled to inform planning and management actions across a broad range of spatial scales.
Wyoming Basin Rapid Ecoregional Assessment: Work Plan
Carr, N.B., S.L. Garman, A. Walters, A. Ray, C.P. Melcher, J.S. Wesner, M.S. O’Donnell, K.R. Sherrill, N.C. Babel, and Z.H. Bowen
The overall goal of the Rapid Ecoregional Assessments (REAs) being conducted for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is to provide information that supports regional planning and analysis for the management of ecological resources. The REA provides an assessment of baseline ecological conditions, an evaluation of current risks from drivers of ecosystem change, and a predictive capacity for evaluating future risks. The REA also may be used for identifying priority areas for conservation or restoration and for assessing the cumulative effects of a variety of land uses. There are several components of the REAs. Management Questions, developed by the BLM and partners for the ecoregion, identify the information needed for addressing land-management responsibilities. Conservation Elements represent regionally significant aquatic and terrestrial species and communities that are to be conserved and (or) restored. The REA also will evaluate major drivers of ecosystem change (Change Agents) currently affecting or likely to affect the status of Conservation Elements. We selected 8 major biomes and 19 species or species assemblages to be included as Conservation Elements. We will address the four primary Change Agents—development, fire, invasive species, and climate change—required for the REA. The purpose of the work plan for the Wyoming Basin REA is to document the selection process for, and final list of, Management Questions, Conservation Elements, and Change Agents. The work plan also presents the overall assessment framework that will be used to assess the status of Conservation Elements and answer Management Questions.
Where eagles nest, the wind also blows: consolidating habitat and energy needs [Science Feature]
Energy development is rapidly escalating in resource-rich Wyoming, and with it the risks posed to raptor populations. These risks are of increasing concern to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is responsible for protecting the persistence of protected species, including raptors. In support of a Federal mandate to protect trust species and the wind energy industry’s need to find suitable sites on which to build wind farms, scientists at the USGS Fort Collins Science Center (FORT) and their partners are conducting research to help reduce impacts to raptor species from wind energy operations. Potential impacts include collision with the turbine blades and habitat disruption and disturbance from construction and operations. This feature describes a science-based tool—a quantitative predictive model—being developed and tested by FORT scientists to potentially avoid or reduce such impacts. This tool will provide industry and resource managers with the biological basis for decisions related to sustainably siting wind turbines in a way that also conserves important habitats for nesting golden eagles. Because of the availability of comprehensive data on nesting sites, golden eagles in Wyoming are the prototype species (and location) for the first phase of this investigation.
Predatory bird populations in the east Mojave Desert, California
Knight, R.L., R.J. Camp, W.I. Boarman, and H.A.L. Knight
Habitat Prioritization for Selected Raptor Species in Wyoming
A golden eagle
The conservation of raptors in Wyoming due to potential population declines is a concern to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). For this reason, standard conservation measures for development activities to mitigate impacts to raptors are currently recommended by the FWS (e.g., seasonal distance restrictions of activities relative to known roost or nest sites). However, these measures are limited in several ways:
They are applied during only one season,
They focus only on known nest or roost sites, and
They do not consider other habitats such as foraging areas, unknown roost and nest sites, and movement corridors.
Identification of priority habitats for raptors in Wyoming could help address these limitations. Modeling habitat selection based on existing raptor and habitat data could predict and map the importance of different habitats. Furthermore, habitat selection modeling could also predict the location of potentially limiting habitats such as roost and nest sites, and foraging areas across the landscape. We are developing a quantitative predictive model of the relationship between available raptor habitat, and raptor habitat use for 4 species in Wyoming: Golden Eagle, Ferruginous Hawk, Northern Harrier, and Prairie Falcon. This research will result in models and maps that identify priority habitat areas. These products will assist the FWS in effective raptor conservation by facilitating the prioritization of locations for strategic, and focused, conservation efforts.