Southwestern Willow Flycatcher--Contribute to the Delisting by Evaluating Reclamation River Operations to Maximize Habitat Benefits and Minimize Water Use; Assess Relationship Between Salt Cedar and Native Habitats, River Operations, and Multiple-Use

Project ID: 183
Principal Investigator: Darrell Ahlers
Research Topic: Ecosystem Needs
Funded Fiscal Years: 2004, 2005 and 2006
Keywords: None

Research Question

* How much water is needed and when should it be delivered to establish and support suitable habitat and to maximize nesting success?

* Will the benefits associated with salt cedar control (e.g., water savings) outweigh the potential adverse impacts (i.e., loss of habitat)?

* Does livestock grazing (multiple-use) significantly reduce the availability of breeding habitat, and does the presence of livestock increase the likelihood of brood parasitism by the brown-headed cowbird?

Need and Benefit

The development of scientifically sound and cost effective conservation and recovery measures for the southwestern willow flycatcher would facilitate Reclamation's mission to meet water deliveries within the Rio Grande Basin while achieving compliance with environmental regulations. The goal of meeting water deliveries within the Rio Grande is identified in the Commissioner's top 10 priorities over the next three years.

Reclamation's ability to meet water deliveries is determined by the quantity of water available to meet contractual agreements, funding, and the efficient use of project water. Research that is focused on developing an improved understanding of the life requisites and habitat requirements of the southwestern willow flycatcher will allow resource managers throughout the Upper Colorado (UC) and Lower Colorado (LC) regions to make informed decisions. Informed and scientifically sound decisions are critical to insure that project water is used in the most cost effective and environmentally sound manner (which avoids direct and indirect adverse impacts and achieves compliance with mitigation and conservation measures associated with the southwestern willow flycatcher). Mitigation and conservation measures which maximize resource benefits and minimize water use will aid resource managers in their ability to meet water obligations for all stakeholders.

In addition to water savings based on sound management decisions, data gathered through this research effort will also benefit Reclamation's UC and LC regional offices when addressing a variety of mission related activities, as well as other Federal and State agencies, and private environmental organizations. Some of these benefits include:

* Identification of occupied habitats during the initial project scooping phase would reduce direct and indirect impacts to the resources, and reduce overall project costs.

* Data collected from this study will determine whether ongoing cowbird trapping programs are a cost effective method to reduce cowbird parasitism and increase nest success of neotropical migrants, including the southwestern willow flycatcher.

* The data collected from this study will provide technically sound and supportable information to be used in determining appropriate grazing regimes on Reclamation properties and an improved understanding of livestock, brown-headed cowbirds, and their hosts--including the southwestern willow flycatcher.

* Information gathered through this research study will prove to be instrumental in the development and implementation of the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Recovery Plan.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 6/22/20