The current conservation crisis calls for research and management to be carried out on a long-term, multi-species basis at large spatial scales. Unfortunately, scientists, managers, and agencies often are stymied in their effort to conduct these large-scale studies because of a lack of appropriate technology, methodology, and funding. This issue is of particular concern in wetland conservation, for which the standard landscape approach may include consideration of a large tract of land but fail to incorporate the suite of wetland sites frequently used by highly mobile organisms such as waterbirds (e.g., shorebirds, wading birds, waterfowl). Typically, these species have population dynamics that require use of multiple wetlands, but this aspect of their life history has often been ignored in planning for their conservation. We outline theoretical, empirical, modeling, and planning problems associated with this issue and suggest solutions to some current obstacles. These solutions represent a tradeoff between typical in-depth single-species studies and more generic multi-species studies. They include studying within- and among-season movements of waterbirds on a spatial scale appropriate to both widely dispersing and more stationary species; multi-species censuses at multiple sites; further development and use of technology such as satellite transmitters and population-specific molecular markers; development of spatially explicit population models that consider within-season movements of waterbirds; and recognition from funding agencies that landscape-level issues cannot adequately be addressed without support for these types of studies.