Recreational Birdwatching and Habitat

Science Center Objects

Thousands of visitors flock to the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge every year to look for birds both rare and common. Birdwatching activities contribute to economic activity for the Nisqually area and play a role in the broader outdoor-loving culture of the Pacific Northwest. The refuge has kept detailed records of how birds are using the different habitats within the refuge. Additionally, both refuge staff and visitors submit data to the citizen science platform eBird, providing a rich record of species presence and visitor activity over time. 

Photo of an American Bittern

An American Bittern stands among the reeds at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. 

(Credit: Bob Engr, FWS. Public domain.)

To assess the value of birdwatching as an ecosystem service, we use benefits transfer techniques and visitation data. Using our models of habitat change, we can estimate how bird habitat may change over 100 years under different sea level rise scenarios. We will identify tradeoffs in habitat availability for different bird groups, particularly those that rely on vegetation communities with specific elevation and inundation tolerances.

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