Whither Phalaropes? Convening a working group to propel shorebird conservation research in Great Basin saline lakes
Ryan Carle, Conservation Coordinator at Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge, and Margaret Rubega, Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut, will convene and lead a working group of researchers and others to study two species of migratory bird whose population numbers are declining. Wilson's Phalaropes and Red-necked Phalaropes both use highly saline lakes in the western U.S. (primarily, Mono Lake and Great Salt Lake) as critical stopover habitat on their way from breeding grounds in northern North America to wintering habitat in South America. Strong anecdotal evidence suggests the numbers of birds at Mono Lake have declined significantly in the last 20 years. Margaret, Ryan and a core team of researchers, with the support of the Mono Lake Committee, will design population surveys to take place over the next five years to collect data that will inform near-term policy decisions at Mono Lake, and depending on survey outcomes may inform conservation listing status of both birds. The Switzer Network Innovation grant will fund the initial planning meeting and associated travel costs of key personnel.