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Many conservation organizations and initiatives including Partners-in-Flight and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's regional Joint Ventures have identified migratory songbird stopover habitat as a priority conservation target. However, the spatial and temporal variability inherent in migration presents a number of challenges to both identifying and characterizing stopover habitat. Scarce conservation resources further demand that stopover sites be classified on a scale of priority so that conservation action can proceed according to ecological value. We are applying weather surveillance radar data collected from the National Weather Service WSR-88D at Wakefield, VA, and NASA's Doppler radar, NPOL, in Oyster, VA, to identify passerine stopover sites in the lower Chesapeake Bay region and develop spatial models to characterize these sites based on relative migrant abundance and consistency of use between and within seasons. We are using the stopover patterns to generate hypotheses regarding the habitat, geographic, and stochastic factors contributing to the distribution of migrants at a regional scale. We are testing these hypotheses with detailed habitat data and ground surveys of migrating birds with the goal of creating a generalized prioritization system for stopover site conservation.
Additional Publication Details
Characterizing stopover sites of migrating passerine birds in the lower Chesapeake Bay region for conservation: an integrated radar-habitat study