Bird Migration Patterns in the Arid Southwest Using Doppler Radar

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Through a cooperative agreement, USGS and University of Southern Mississippi scientists are using NEXRAD Surveillance Weather Radar to understand bird migration patterns in the borderlands area of the arid southwestern United States. Objectives are to (1) map radar beam obstruction caused by ground clutter; (2) estimate geographic variation in migrant density during flight across the Southwest; (3) estimate, where possible, habitat-migrant associations, and (4) estimate variation in migrant height and direction of travel. In addition, the principal investigators in this project are involved in the development of a USGS/USFWS-sponsored coalition of Federal agencies, scientists using radar technologies, and partners using the resulting data to address regulatory, conservation, safety, and power/telectrocommunications issues. The long-term focus of this coalition is to use these technologies to better understand movement patterns and habitat associations of migratory birds and other wildlife. This information will be valuable to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other landowners in dealing with regulatory issues of recent concern—e.g., the siting and permitting of communication towers and wind power turbines known to cause bird mortality—as well as for habitat protection and management.