Managing Metapopulations of Threatened Species Across Jurisdictional Boundaries: Quantifying Effects of Climate Change, Environmental Synchrony, Dispersal, and Corridors” by Dr. William Morris and Dr. Allison Louthan (SERDP Project RC18-1065)

Many species of concern on DoD lands occur across multiple jurisdictions, but each jurisdiction usually manages each species independently. In this webinar, we will discuss tools we have developed to improve cross-jurisdictional management of the Venus flytrap (VFT), a species of concern. These tools include spatially explicit population models, which simulate population-level processes and allow us to test for the effects of alternative management scenarios across multiple jurisdictions while incorporating dispersal estimates. Our results show that a moderate fire return interval (FRI) will maximize VFT population size, but that climate modifies the effect of FRI, namely, changes in FRI are less impactful for populations in a future climate than in a current climate. Together, these results have three benefits for DoD. First, they recommend an FRI that will aid in VFT conservation. Second, given poor performance just after a fire, the results suggest jurisdictions should try to burn asynchronously, ensuring that not all populations of VFT have poor performance simultaneously (thus reducing extinction risk). Third, a similar approach could be used even within a jurisdiction to improve outcomes. Overall, our results recommend clear management strategies for both cross-jurisdictional and within-jurisdiction management of VFT populations.

“Using Remotely Sensed Data and Light-Level Geolocator Technology to Inform Off-Post Landscape-Scale Conservation Planning for a Migratory Species” by Dr. Ashley Long and Mr. John Macy (SERDP Project RC18-1358)

Over 400 migratory bird species that occur in North America are experiencing population declines due to habitat loss and degradation. Many of these species spend at least some portion of their life cycles on DoD lands. Understanding the timing, location, and duration of migration, and the extent to which individuals from a specific breeding location spend the non-breeding period in distinct areas (i.e., migratory connectivity) is necessary to maintain and restore populations of at-risk species and support the military mission. Until recently, researchers obtained migration and habitat use data from field-based observations of banded birds and tracking devices on large-bodied birds. Recent improvements in tracking technology have enhanced our ability to study movements of smaller migratory species during breeding and non-breeding periods. Light-level geolocators represent a low-cost, lightweight option for tracking long-distance movements of small (<30 grams) migratory species and have provided important insight into the movement ecology of birds that was previously unknown. This presentation will describe how our team used miniaturized light-level geolocators to study the migration ecology of a small (<10 gram) endangered songbird, the golden-cheeked warbler (Setophaga chrysoparia), what we learned about warbler migration, and how our results could help inform conservation efforts for warblers and other at-risk species.


Speaker Biographies


Dr. William Morris is a professor of biology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. His research uses mathematical models fitted to field data to assess the impacts of environmental changes, including climate change, on the geographical distributions and abundances of plant and animal species. He continues to co-lead several long-term demographic studies of plant populations (including, for 28 years, two species of tundra plants throughout their ranges in western North America and Venus flytrap throughout its much smaller range in North Carolina). He has been a co-performer on four SERDP-funded projects. He co-authored a book titled Quantitative Conservation Biology which describes the use of population models to assess extinction risk and guide management of threatened and endangered species. Dr. Morris received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Cornell University and a doctoral degree in zoology from the University of Washington.


Dr. Allison Louthan is an assistant professor at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. She is a population ecologist whose work focuses on how species interactions and climate change jointly influence plant population dynamics, with a particular focus on threatened and rare species and on impacts of large mammal herbivory on plant populations and communities. Dr. Louthan has authored 20 peer-reviewed papers and delivered over 14 presentations and invited talks. She is a subject matter editor at Ecological Applications and is a co-Investigator at the Konza Prairie Long-Term Ecological Research Site. Her work has been funded by SERDP, the National Science Foundation, the United States Department of Agriculture, and a variety of nonprofit organizations. Dr. Louthan received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Grinnell college and a doctoral degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder.


Dr. Ashley Long is an assistant professor of wildlife ecology at Louisiana State University’s School of Renewable Natural Resources. As a wildlife extension specialist, her research focuses on how vegetation management practices, human activity, and infrastructure development influence species’ distributions, movements, and wildlife population dynamics. In addition, her laboratory develops GIS-based tools to inform conservation planning. Current research collaborations utilize emerging technologies, such as miniaturized light-level geolocators and automated telemetry, to examine migratory connectivity and movements of endangered species. Dr. Long received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, a master’s degree in biological sciences from Emporia State University in Kansas, and a doctoral degree in wildlife and fisheries from Texas A&M University.


Mr. John Macey is an endangered species biologist and the lead golden-cheeked warbler biologist at Fort Hood Army Installation in Texas. He has spent most of his career working for the U.S. Army on wildlife population monitoring, habitat restoration, endangered species management, and other species of conservational concern. Mr. Macey received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from Stephen F. Austin State University. In addition to his position at Fort Hood, Mr. Macey is currently a doctoral candidate at Texas A&M University where he is examining migratory connectivity of golden-cheeked warblers.