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Strategic restoration planning for land birds in the Colorado River Delta, Mexico

December 12, 2023

Ecological restoration is an essential strategy for mitigating the current biodiversity crisis, yet restoration actions are costly. We used systematic conservation planning principles to design an approach that prioritizes restoration sites for birds and tested it in a riparian forest restoration program in the Colorado River Delta. Restoration goals were to maximize the abundance and diversity of 15 priority birds with a variety of habitat preferences. We built abundance models for priority birds based on the current landscape, and predicted bird distributions and relative abundances under a scenario of complete riparian forest restoration throughout our study area. Then, we used Zonation conservation planning software to rank this restored landscape based on core areas for all priority birds. The locations with the highest ranks represented the highest priorities for restoration and were located throughout the river reach. We optimized how much of the available landscape to restore by simulating restoration of the top 10–90% of ranked sites in 10% intervals. We found that total diversity was maximized when 40% of the landscape was restored, and mean relative abundance was maximized when 80% of the landscape was restored. The results suggest that complete restoration is not optimal for this community of priority birds and restoration of approximately 60% of the landscape would provide a balance between maximum relative abundance and diversity. Subsequent planning efforts will combine our results with an assessment of restoration costs to provide further decision support for the restoration-siting process. Our approach can be applied to any landscape-scale restoration program to improve the return on investment of limited economic resources for restoration.

    Publication Year 2024
    Title Strategic restoration planning for land birds in the Colorado River Delta, Mexico
    DOI 10.1016/j.jenvman.2023.119755
    Authors Joanna Grand, Timothy D Meehan, William V. Deluca, Julia Morton, Jennifer Pitt, Alejandra Calvo-Fonseca, Chris Dodge, Martha Gómez-Sapiens, Eduardo González Sargas, Osvel Hinojosa-Huerta, Pamela L. Nagler, Carlos Restrepo-Giraldo, Patrick B. Shafroth, Stefanny Villagomez-Palma, Chad B Wilsey
    Publication Type Article
    Publication Subtype Journal Article
    Series Title Journal of Environmental Management
    Index ID 70251895
    Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
    USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center; Southwest Biological Science Center