CitationReiter, M. E., Elliott, N. K., Jongsomjit, D., Golet, G. H., & Reynolds, M. D. (2018). Impact of extreme drought and incentive programs on flooded agriculture and wetlands in California’s Central Valley. PeerJ, 6, e5147. Agriculture, Birds, Citizen Science, Freshwater Animals, Migration, Remote Sensing, satellite data, Satellite Imagery, Technology, Wildtech Article published by Sue Palminteri Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Researchers used satellite images to assess the effectiveness of financial incentive programs for farmers in creating habitat for waterbirds, including ducks, geese, and shorebirds, in California’s Central Valley, where nearly all natural wetlands have been converted to agriculture.Observations of 25 waterbird species by hundreds of citizen scientists helped to identify the target zones for water management and to verify the birds’ use of managed areas.The satellite data indicated that a severe drought substantially reduced the birds’ open-water habitat and that the incentive programs created more than 60 percent of available habitat on specific days during the migrations.The researchers state that remotely sensed data can be used effectively to track water availability and regularly update water and wetland managers on how much habitat is available and where, so they can coordinate water management activities. The millions of waterbirds that migrate each spring from South America to as far as the Arctic can’t do it in one trip. They stop to rest and refuel several times along the way to survive the grueling journey.But widespread land-use change has shrunk the area of stopover habitat available to ducks, geese, shorebirds, and other migratory species. In central California, concerned citizens, scientists, and conservation groups have joined forces to protect what remains.A flock of dowitchers glide above the water. Image by T Grey.Scientists from Point Blue Conservation Science and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) combined satellite imagery and statistical models with farmer incentive programs and the efforts of hundreds of volunteers contributing data through a citizen science app to pinpoint the areas of central California with the greatest potential for providing migratory bird habitat. They recently published their analysis of the success of these incentive programs in maintaining bird habitat during an extreme drought sustained between 2013 and 2015 across the western United States.“Before this research was completed, we had a sense that these programs were succeeding in offsetting the impacts of the drought on wildlife, but now we know exactly how critical they are in providing bird habitat in the Central Valley,” lead author Matt Reiter, principal scientist and quantitative ecologist at Point Blue, said in a statement.Retaining habitat in a transformed landscapeShorebirds, including sandpipers and stilts, dunlins and dowitchers, feed on aquatic invertebrates that live in mud or wet sand, so they seek wetlands during their stopovers.California’s Central Valley, once home to a vast system of about 16,200 square kilometers (6,250 square miles) of wetlands, is one such key stopover region for migratory shorebirds and waterfowl along the Pacific migratory flyway.A gathering of marbled godwits, dowitchers, willets, and other shorebirds at Arrowhead Marsh, Oakland, California. Image by Ingrid Taylar, CC 2.0.The valley extends more than 400 kilometers (250 miles) north to south and up to 100 kilometers (62 miles) east to west. Massive agricultural development has eliminated more than 90 percent of the naturally occurring wetlands, leaving the birds dependent on flooded agricultural fields for food during their stopovers.California’s water is highly managed, so anthropogenic factors play a large role in determining when and where the impacts of drought appear on the landscape. A pair of financial assistance programs provided farmers in the birds’ flight paths with incentive payments to flood their fields at key times during the 2013-2015 drought to create habitat for migrating waterbirds.The area’s rice growers flood their fields each fall with 5 to 10 centimeters (2 to 4 inches) of water in preparation for the next year’s harvest. The flooding converts the paddies into ideal migratory shorebird habitat, so TNC’s BirdReturns and the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Waterbird Habitat Enhancement Program (WHEP) offer farmers financial incentives to flood their fields for one to two additional months, to coincide with the bird migration.Avid birdwatchers across the Central Valley helped the partners to identify the areas to target for habitat management and confirm these areas’ use by target species. Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird online platform encouraged birdwatchers in the region to submit their bird observations to its database, before and after the incentive programs began.Spotted sandpipers are another shorebird species found in the study region. Image by J. Gehling, CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0.eBird statisticians compiled the observations from hundreds of birders to build models that predicted where 25 species of shorebirds would likely be present across the Central Valley during their spring and fall migrations. The models generated maps that showed when and where the target species were expected to gather. Overlaying maps of bird concentrations with the distribution of surface water indicated mismatches — areas where management action, in the form of flooding, was most needed.Seeing water from spaceTo assess the success of these programs, the researchers used satellite imagery to examine the impact of the drought on the timing and extent of surface water in the Central Valley.“By using satellites to track habitats regularly,” Reiter told Mongabay, “we can look for hotspots of change and use that information to help prioritize conservation actions.”They analyzed Landsat images from 2013 to 2015 to identify areas of open water (more than 30 percent vegetated) across the Central Valley and to measure the distribution of open water habitat in managed wetlands and fields of rice, corn and other crops between July and May.Using data from ground and aerial surveys, they developed predictive models to identify open water, separate from saturated soil underneath thick vegetation. “We will probably not get moist soil without some ponded water with our model,” Reiter said. “That said, because we track water year round, we can identify those places that maintain some open water across months.”A longbilled dowitcher foraging. Standing water is considered critical habitat for these and other shorebirds, as well as waterfowl such as ducks and geese. Image by T. Grey.The models quantified the influence of drought, precipitation, season, region, and protected status on the proportion of open water in each land cover type between July and May of the following year.The scientists then calculated the relative contribution to available habitat during that period of the two farmer incentive programs. They used the image data to estimate the daily proportion of flooded habitat in each type of field (e.g. rice, corn, etc.) that was provided by these programs. They multiplied that proportion by the total amount of the crop planted in each year (2,161 square kilometers, or 834 square miles, in 2013 and, 1,696 square kilometers, or 655 square miles, in 2014) to get the area of open water habitat made available by the programs each day. Footage courtesy of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Joy Ng.“We [then] combined predicted shorebird abundance values with predicted wetland extent to identify times and locations where temporary wetlands could deliver potentially high-value shorebird habitat,” said co-author Mark Reynolds, lead scientist for The Nature Conservancy’s California Migratory Bird Program.The analysis showed that the drought substantially reduced the availability of open water habitats across the Central Valley’s fields and wetlands, both spatially and temporally. During the drought, the amount of open water habitat decreased by 40 to 80 percent, compared to non-drought years, and the decline varied by land cover type, time of year, and region. For example, corn and wetlands in the San Joaquin Basin dried out more than rice and wetlands in the Sacramento Valley. Protected wetlands retained more water than unprotected, privately owned wetlands.Wetlands in central California’s otherwise dry environment. Image by R. Digaudio.It also revealed that the incentive programs provided a large portion of the open water in rice fields during the fall and spring waterbird migrations in the drought years.“BirdReturns provided 39 percent of the post-harvest flooded rice during the fall, when flooded habitat is at its lowest and waterbirds are in high abundance,” Reiter said in a publication summary. “And WHEP created 64 percent of the habitat during the winter. Overall, incentive programs provided 35 percent of the habitat on the landscape October through March.”Possibly more important for hungry migratory birds during a drought, the BirdReturns program provided up to 61 percent of all available flooded rice habitat on certain fall days and WHEP created up to 100 percent of available habitat on some days during the winter.Do birds use the managed wetlands?The crowd-sourced eBird observations collected after the incentive programs began helped to verify the use by the birds of different types of managed areas. The data showed that crop fields participating in BirdReturns pilot program, for example, hosted far more target migratory waterbirds than control fields (with no additional flooding).“This new approach to rent habitat on demand promises to engage more farmers to provide habitat in a flexible manner that can be tailored to ever-changing weather patterns and farming practices,” Reynolds said.A long-billed curlew moves between fields in central California. Image by TJ Gehling, CC BY NC 2.0.The birdwatchers recorded more than 220,000 birds representing 57 species in the BirdReturns fields, with February-March shorebird densities 20 times higher than on non-participating fields. These totals included more than 20,000 dunlins, representing roughly 20 percent of the entire overwintering dunlin population in the Central Valley.“The study highlights the role incentive programs can play in species conservation,” Reiter said. “Program managers should place a high priority on maintaining incentive programs in the face of more frequent severe droughts in order to sustain waterbirds in the Central Valley and the Pacific Flyway.”The survival of millions of migratory birds in increasingly modified landscapes now depends on human intervention, so assessing the success of specific actions can help managers apply them elsewhere.“Open water and wetlands are critical habitat resources across the world and have seen some of the greatest losses to human development,” Reiter said. “Our models could be used in other landscapes where water and wetlands play a key role in supporting wildlife habitat to prioritize those places and times when we need to make sure to sustain those water dependent ecosystems and habitats on the landscape.”This video offers more detailed information about the project. 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