Understanding the factors affecting migratory bird and bat populations during all three phases of their life cyclei??breeding, nonbreeding, and migrationi??is critical to species conservation planning. This includes the need for information about these species‘ responses to natural challenges, as well as information about the effects of human activities and structures. Habitats and other resources critical to migrants during passage and stopover are being destroyed, degraded, and threatened by human activities. Birds and bats are also uniquely susceptible to human use of the airspace. Wind turbines, communication and power transmission towers, and other tall structures, known to cause bird and bat mortality, are being erected or proposed in increasing numbers across the country. In addition, the potential for bird/aircraft collisions poses human safety threats. Management and regulatory agencies, conservation organizations, and industry currently lack the information they need to meet their missions and statutory responsibilities. The biological data available from various radar technologies offer a unique opportunity to learn more about the spatiotemporal distribution patterns, flight characteristics, and habitat use of "aero-fauna".
Recognizing the opportunities presented by radar technologies, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and university partners collaborated first on individual projects and then in a broader, informal i??collaborativei?? to coordinate their radar-related research and work together to develop the suite of products needed for conservation of birds and bats. Having produced two summary documents (Sojda and others, 2005; Ruth and others, 2005), the next objective was to convene a workshop for researchers, management and regulatory agencies, and other interested parties. The focus of this initial workshop was on strengthening the existing USGS-USFWS-university partnership and expanding the i??collaborativei?? to include new Federal agency partners. The subject matter was centered on discussing available technologies, appropriate applications, management-related needs, and ways to strengthen collaborative research and conservation efforts.
The workshop opened with presentations about the history of the "radar collaborative", a description of the workshop objectives and focuses, and a summary of resource management and regulatory needs. Scientific presentations describing current research projects or subjects followed, given by USGS scientists, as well as scientists from other Federal agencies, academia, conservation and ornithological organizations, and a private contracting firm. Presenters addressed a wide variety of management issues including siting of wind-power facilities, bird/aircraft collisions, effects of hurricanes Katrina and Rita on bird migration, bird use of Conservation Reserve Program land, defining bird migration patterns at a broad regional scale, and associating migrant birds with their stopover habitats. Presentations described a variety of radar technologies including NEXRAD weather surveillance radar, modified mobile marine radar, military tracking radar, pencil beam radar, and dual polarization radar, as well as complementary techniques and analysis methods such as acoustic monitoring, thermal imaging, artificial intelligence, and individual-based modeling.
Key issues, themes, and questions identified during the open discussions that followed fell into five main categories: (1) agency needs and challenges; (2) radar technology and applicationsi??technical questions and issues; (3) tools and resources for managers and researchers; (4) standardization of protocols; and (5) collaborative opportunities. Participants identified the following management, regulatory, or business issues facing them which may be addressed with radar technologies: tall structures; wind turbines; identification and protection of key habit