Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions eNewsletter
Spring 2020

Welcome to the fourth IMBCR e-newsletter! With this outlet, we will showcase IMBCR data applications for management and conservation efforts, highlight the many partners and faces that make IMBCR possible, and provide updates and outreach materials. Please forward the newsletter to any interested colleagues who might find the material useful. If you have examples you would like to share using IMBCR data or would like to get involved in this monitoring effort, please contact Jen!

´╗┐Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions (IMBCR) is a breeding landbird monitoring program that spans the Great Plains to the Intermountain West. A nested, probabilistic sampling design allows us to make inference about bird populations at multiple scales across public and private lands. Click here for more information about the program including the IMBCR vision and mission statement .
IMBCR Announcements
The annual IMBCR Partners meeting was held in Fort Collins Jan. 29 & 30 with roughly 45 participants from several different organizations. The meeting included a session on how to get involved with IMBCR including a presentation showcasing an example overlay project looking at the impacts of aspen regeneration on non-game species. The data integration session featured two talks on Breeding Bird Survey applications, two talks highlighting IMBCR applications, and one talk on current integration efforts for IMBCR and eBird data to inform focal species management. The session concluded with a panel discussion to address when integration is most useful. Cara Staab, with the USFS Northern Region, was the IMBCR partner of the year, and she thanked all of the individuals who help make IMBCR successful in her region. Go team! Visit this folder to see notes and recorded presentations from the meeting.
Field Season Update: BCR and implementation partners will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation as we plan for the upcoming field season. We will keep partners updated, but let us know if you have any questions in the meantime. The safety of our biologists and technicians is our main priority, but we will do our best to complete the field work.
Staff Migrations
Adam Green recently accepted a spatial analyst position with the BLM in Lakewood, CO. Adam was instrumental in automating the annual IMBCR analyses and switching them to a Bayesian framework. Adam will be working on a contractual basis to wrap up some projects, and Quresh Latif will take over the annual IMBCR analyses next year. We will miss Adam's baking and gardening skills at the Bird Conservancy office and hope to work with him in the future.
Annual IMBCR report ready!
´╗┐The 2019 IMBCR field season report is finished. Feel free to share with others or provide us feedback on the content.
IMBCR Partner Spotlight
Anne Bartuszevige
Conservation Science Director, Playa Lakes Joint Venture (PLJV)

At PLJV, we began using the IMBCR program to collect data across the six states within our region in 2016. Our partnership needed high quality, region-wide bird data to answer important habitat management questions and guide our restoration efforts. From the beginning, " IMBCR for PLJV " has been a multi-partner effort that includes state and federal agencies as well as nonprofit organizations. 
Putting the Data to Work

For us, IMBCR is not "just" a monitoring program but a program that provides both valuable monitoring data and answers to management questions. For example, last year we developed a region-wide study to look at the effects of shrub encroachment on grassland bird communities. This information will help our partnership understand how this type of habitat loss relates to grassland bird declines and help us develop strategies to effectively deal with the encroachment.

For more information about IMBCR for PLJV, please visit their website.



Above: Anne Bartuszevige
´╗┐Right: map of the PLJV region
Applying the Data
In addition to the baseline IMBCR effort, PLJV and partners have begun to answer specific management questions with off-year studies. For the first off-year study, they are looking at the effects of woody encroachment in the Great Plains to understand the effects on grassland birds. They mapped mesquite and eastern red cedar encroachment over the last 15 years using high-resolution satellite imagery. In spring 2019, technicians sampled in New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas in areas of low, medium, and high mesquite shrub cover, and in spring 2020, technicians will sample in Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma across a gradient of eastern red cedar encroachment. The results from this study should inform how grassland birds respond to thresholds of woody encroachment and prioritize areas for shrub removal.
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) is also using IMBCR for PLJV to evaluate the effects of mesquite removal on grassland birds at Matador Wildlife Management Area (pictured below) in west Texas. In this study, TPWD biologists want to see if the bird data support their grassland restoration efforts. They will also use the results of the larger off-year study to target future shrub removal efforts.
Baird's sparrow with a geolocator on its back. Photo by Andy Bankert.
Biologists with Bird Conservancy are working on several projects to help provide information on declining grassland bird populations and how to most effectively reduce these losses. Projects include:
  • Nonbreeding surveys on selected ranches in Texas in 2019 to learn about grassland bird populations on the wintering grounds and expanding this effort in future years
  • Building an integrated population model to more effectively target management and conservation efforts across the full annual cycle of grassland birds
  • Determining the contribution of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands to grassland bird populations and biodiversity in the Great Plains
  • Evaluating conservation easements and grazing practices for grassland birds across the Great Plains for conservation partners, such as the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
During the annual IMBCR partners meeting, Chris Colt, a USFS wildlife biologist, presented on an aspen regeneration project in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest and how he used IMBCR data to inform his NEPA report. Meeting participants were impressed with how well Chris explained not only his use of the bird monitoring data for project planning, but also the hurdles field biologists face when looking for existing data to complete similar reports.

In light of the feedback, Chris hosted a webinar in March to go over his use of IMBCR data for a NEPA project, and specifically how to access the data from the Rocky Mountain Avian Data Center.
Attendance and participation from webinar attendees were high, so we will continue to host periodic webinars on using IMBCR data for management applications. See Chris's powerpoint slides here along with a 1-pager outlining his project and the steps he took.
Please stay safe during the current health situation! In addition to social distancing and frequent hand washing, be sure to watch videos of cats and dogs doing funny things. It won't protect you from the virus, but it will make you laugh. Also, please enjoy the time at home with family and spring time birding.
Stay in touch!
Contact Jen Timmer (j ennifer.timmer@birdconservancy.org ) with questions, example applications of IMBCR data, pictures, or any other contributing material for future IMBCR e-newsletters.
birdconservancy.org/IMBCR