Vital Signs Included in Protocol
- Bird communities
Parks Where Protocol Will Be Implemented
Birds of grassland, shrubland, and riparian, communities will be monitored at AMIS, BIBE, CAVE, FODA, GUMO, WHSA.
Justification/Issues Being Addressed
The opportunity to see wildlife attracts many visitors to CHDN parks. The geographic location and arid and semi-arid environment of these parks provide suitable habitat for a variety of desert, woodland, and montane species of the southwestern United States. In particular, desert riparian and grassland communities provide important habitats for migrating and wintering birds in the Southwest despite a reduction in quality and quantity during the past 100 years (Ffolliott et al. 2004, Merola-Zwartjes 2005, Skagen et al. 2005). The relatively less-disturbed systems in CHDN parks provide refugia for avian species seeking these habitats and enhance regional biodiversity. Properties of faunal assemblages and populations, in particular birds, are important indicators of environmental change because they serve a great diversity of ecological functions that affect ecosystem productivity, resilience, and sustainability (Marcot 1996, Bryce et al. 2002, Sullivan et al. 2007). Similar conservation issues affect landbirds in the southwestern U.S. and northwest Mexico, making bird monitoring an important international issue as well (Rich et al. 2004).
Birds are desirable subjects for long-term ecological monitoring because they have widespread public appeal, and changes in the park’s fauna are likely to garner a high level of public interest and generate support for corrective or remedial management actions. Also, CHDN parks are well-positioned to contribute to regional and national bird monitoring initiatives (e.g., other adjacent I&M networks - Sonoran Desert, Southern Colorado and Southern Plains; Partners in Flight; Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, parks in adjacent Chihuahuan and Coahulla, Mexico) that will provide insight into changes of this important focal resource.
This protocol will address obligate breeding bird species for Chihuahuan Desert grasslands, shrublands and riparian areas. Seventeen bird species of continental importance (> 75% of their breeding population occurs in this biome) are found in CHDN parks, including Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps), Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus), Scaled Quail (Callipepla squamata), and Bell’s Vireo (Vireo bellii). Secondarily, this protocol will also provide information on many other bird species that use these habitats during the breeding season.