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Estimating offsets for avian displacement effects of anthropogenic impacts

July 26, 2019

Biodiversity offsetting, or compensatory mitigation, is increasingly being used in temperate grassland ecosystems to compensate for unavoidable environmental damage from anthropogenic developments such as transportation infrastructure, urbanization, and energy development. Pursuit of energy independence in the United States will expand domestic energy production. Concurrent with this increased growth is increased disruption to wildlife habitats, including avian displacement from suitable breeding habitat. Recent studies at energy-extraction and -generation facilities have provided evidence for behavioral avoidance and thus reduced use of habitat by breeding waterfowl and grassland birds in the vicinity of energy infrastructure. To quantify and compensate for this loss in value of avian breeding habitat, it is necessary to determine a biologically-based currency so that the sufficiency of offsets in terms of biological equivalent value can be obtained. We describe a method for quantifying the amount of habitat needed to provide equivalent biological value for avifauna displaced by energy and transportation infrastructure, based on the ability to define five metrics: impact distance, impact area, pre-impact density, percent displacement, and offset density. We calculate percent displacement values for breeding waterfowl and grassland birds and demonstrate the applicability of our avian-impact offset method using examples for wind and oil infrastructure. We also apply our method to an example in which the biological value of the offset habitat is similar to the impacted habitat, based on similarity in habitat type (e.g., native prairie), geographical location, land use, and landscape composition, as well as to an example in which the biological value of the offset habitat is dissimilar to the impacted habitat. We provide a worksheet that informs potential users how to apply our method to their specific developments and a framework for developing decision-support tools aimed at achieving landscape-level conservation goals.

Publication Year 2019
Title Estimating offsets for avian displacement effects of anthropogenic impacts
DOI 10.1002/eap.1983
Authors Jill A. Shaffer, Charles R. Loesch, Deborah A. Buhl
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecological Applications
Index ID 70205197
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center