AUDUBON'S INTEGRATED APPROACH TO SCIENCE-BASED CONSERVATION FOR SALINE LAKE ECOSYSTEMS
In 2017, Audubon developed a report around Birds and Water in the Arid West (https://www.audubon.org/news/executive-summary-water-and-birds-arid-west-habitats-decline). The results of this study led by Audubon’s science team demonstrated that the network of saline lakes in the Great Basin provide essential stopover sites for large concentrations of migrating shorebirds, including Marbled Godwits, Western Sandpipers, and Red-necked and Wilson’s Phalaropes. These lakes are also important breeding sites for American Avocets, Black-necked Stilts, Long-billed Curlews, Wilson’s Phalaropes, Cinnamon Teal, Gadwall and many other shorebird, waterfowl and other waterbird species.
While learning about the importance of saline lakes for numerous bird species, one thing became clear- birds use these lakes as one interconnected system and no other ecosystems in the arid West can meet these species’ unique requirements. This drove Audubon to create a new conservation strategy around the saline lakes that seeks to develop greater appreciation of the need to think about solutions on an ecosystem-level scale. A key campaign within this strategy is to create pass federal legislation to create a USGS Regional Assessment of saline lakes ecosystems across Great Basin states.
Audubon proposes to share the ways that we integrate science into decision-making and prioritization in a matrixed organization through the example of our work in the saline lakes, but will also present how this strategy is mirrored in other priority watersheds and water initiatives. The success of Audubon’s work as a conservation advocacy organization is rooted in the information provided through data collection or monitoring, assessment of patterns and models of future conditions in our priority ecosystems and the birds that rely on them.