Spatiotemporal variability of inland shorebird stopover wetlands along the Pacific Flyway
Shorebirds are among the most migratory species on Earth, traversing incredible distances each year from their breeding grounds to wintering grounds, and back again. The critical network of staging and stopover sites which these birds use rest and forage may be at risk due to climate change. Conservation and climate adaptation strategies are needed to protect the heavily managed water resources in California for the human and natural communities that rely on them. In collaboration with Point Blue Conservation Science (http://www.pointblue.org/) we will use remote sensing to characterize the extent and persistence of these waterbodies, and to determine how this affects shorebird use of stopovers.
With Point Blue and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we will study inundation patterns and water depth distributions over the past 20 years in the Sacramento Valley. We will evaluate how shorebirds have responded to dynamic changes in both broad and fine-scale habitat availability.
Climate and water allocation decisions by humans can have dramatic impacts on the availability of flooded habitat in the Sacramento Valley. Our classifications of Landsat imagery from a wet spring in 2006 and during the drought in 2014 illustrate these extremes.
Water depth is a major driver of habitat accessibility for shorebird species in the Sacramento Valley. We are measuring water depth within managed wetlands and flood-irrigated rice fields in the Sacramento Valley to assess fine-scale habitat suitability within different wetland types.
At left is an example of estimated water depth (cm) over the course of one year within a single wetland. This visualization was generated using water depth sensor measurements and high-resolution topography data.