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Open-File Report 2011–1236

Objectives, Priorities, Reliable Knowledge, and Science-Based Management of Missouri River Interior Least Terns and Piping Plovers

By Mark Sherfy, Michael Anteau, Terry Shaffer, Marsha Sovada, and Jennifer Stucker

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (4.7 MB)Abstract

Supporting recovery of federally listed interior least tern (Sternula antillarum athalassos; tern) and piping plover (Charadrius melodus; plover) populations is a desirable goal in management of the Missouri River ecosystem. Many tools are implemented in support of this goal, including habitat management, annual monitoring, directed research, and threat mitigation. Similarly, many types of data can be used to make management decisions, evaluate system responses, and prioritize research and monitoring. The ecological importance of Missouri River recovery and the conservation status of terns and plovers place a premium on efficient and effective resource use. Efficiency is improved when a single data source informs multiple high-priority decisions, whereas effectiveness is improved when decisions are informed by reliable knowledge. Seldom will a single study design be optimal for addressing all data needs, making prioritization of needs essential. Data collection motivated by well-articulated objectives and priorities has many advantages over studies in which questions and priorities are determined retrospectively. Research and monitoring for terns and plovers have generated a wealth of data that can be interpreted in a variety of ways. The validity and strength of conclusions from analyses of these data is dependent on compatibility between the study design and the question being asked. We consider issues related to collection and interpretation of biological data, and discuss their utility for enhancing the role of science in management of Missouri River terns and plovers.

A team of USGS scientists at Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center has been conducting tern and plover research on the Missouri River since 2005. The team has had many discussions about the importance of setting objectives, identifying priorities, and obtaining reliable information to answer pertinent questions about tern and plover management on this river system. The objectives of this presentation are to summarize those conversations and to share insights about concepts that could contribute to rigorous science support for management of this river system.

First posted September 14, 2011

For additional information contact:
Director, USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
8711 37th Street SE
Jamestown, ND 58401
(701) 253–5566

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Sherfy, M., Anteau, M., Shaffer, T., Sovada, M., and Stucker, J., 2011, Objectives, priorities, reliable knowledge, and science-based management of Missouri River interior least terns and piping plovers: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011–1236, 26 p.



Slide 1—Introduction

Slide 2—Abstract

Slide 3—Science-Based Missouri River Management

Slide 4—Why is Science a Common Theme?

Slide 5—Missouri River Recovery Program Science Guidance

Slide 6—Tools of Management for Listed Species

Slide 7—Efficiency vs. Effectiveness

Slide 8—What is Data?

Slide 9—What is an Objective?

Slide 10—Example–Piping Plovers

Slide 11— Example–Piping Plovers

Slide 12— Example–Piping Plovers

Slide 13—Prospective vs. Retrospective Questions

Slide 14—Types of Goals

Slide 15—Types of Data Required

Slide 16—Spatial Scales

Slide 17—Tern and Plover Monitoring Program (TPMP)

Slide 18—Where the TPMP has Done Well

Slide 19—Future of Tern and Plover Monitoring

Slide 20—1) Set Objectives

Slide 21—2) Make Predictions and Test Them

Slide 22—3) Ask the How Questions

Slide 23—4) Manage to Learn

Slide 24—5) Prioritize Information Needs

Slide 25—Relationship to Missouri River Recovery

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