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January – May 2018 Update

Rainwater Basin Joint Venture Partnership Update

Spring 2018 Rainwater Basin Waterfowl Monitoring Surveys Completed

This spring we completed the second year of data collection on waterfowl use of wetlands in the Rainwater Basin. RWBJV and Ducks Unlimited staff recorded species and numbers of waterfowl on wetlands throughout the Rainwater Basin 2-3 times a week from February 14 to April 15. More than 500,000 ducks and geese of 24 species were counted on 267 wetlands. The most common species counted were Snow Geese, Pintails, Mallards, Green-Winged Teal, and Wigeon. Data collected for this project will be used to create spatial models that will help describe the local and landscape features that influence habitat selection by migrating waterfowl. Thanks to the many partners that have helped make this project happen, including contributions from the USGS, USFWS, Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District, NGPC, The Nature Conservancy, and Ducks Unlimited. Funding for the survey design and first year of data collection has been provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge System Inventory and Monitoring Program and the Great Plains Landscape Conservation Cooperative.

Nebraska Landcover Mapping

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission continues to make good success collecting the training data to complete the new landcover for Nebraska. This is a joint project between the University of Missouri – Missouri Resource Assessment Partnership, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture. The field data collected by Nebraska Game and Parks contractors will be used for remote sensing classification of vegetation communities while further refinement of vegetation communities will be done using soils and landform data. Special thanks to Gerry Steinauer, Rick Schneider, and Roger Grosse for spearheading the data collection and management efforts. We will be able to use this dataset to further refine our conservation targeting tools.

USFWS Collects Aerial Photography for Annual Habitat Survey

This year USFWS pilots and biologists from North Dakota collected the color infrared aerial photography for the Annual Habitat Survey. The imagery was collected the first week of March. Ned Wright with the Habitat and Population Evaluation Team in Bismarck, North Dakota color balanced and ortho-rectified the imagery. The RWBJV Science Office is analyzing the data so it can be incorporated into the Annual Habitat Survey dataset. The USFWS acquisition will save the RWBJV partnership approximately $45,000 annually. Thanks again to all of the USFWS staff that helped make this happen.

New Publication on Wetland Seed Production in the Rainwater Basin

A recent publication in the journal Wetlands, titled “Timing and Protocols for Estimating Seed Production in Moist-Soil and Phalaris arundinacea Dominated Areas in Rainwater Basin Wetlands,” describes results of a research project that received funding from the RWBJV. Hillhouse et al. described the negative impacts of reed canarygrass on seed production when compared to moist-soil plant species. The authors also suggest that a single sampling period may underestimate seed production and 2-3 sampling periods are needed to obtain the best results. Timing of sampling should be based on peak seed production of the targeted species. More information is available here.

Climate and Wildlife Workshop: May 17-18

Spots are still available for the Climate and Wildlife Workshop to be held at the Crane Trust Nature and Visitor Center next week. The workshop, presented by the High Plains Regional Climate Center and the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, will give wildlife researchers and land managers hands-on experience in data needed to quantify weather and climate parameters. The registration fee is $45 for the two-day event. Contact Kelsey King (kking@cranetrust.org) for more information or to sign up.