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Gulf of Mexico Avian Monitoring Network: A Forum to Facilitate Integrated and Complementary Data Collection for Avian Populations and Their Habitats

Principal Investigator: Mitch Eaton, SE Climate Adaptation Science Center
Project Completion: This project is now completed.
Implements Science Theme: 4 & 5
Co-Investigators: James Lyons (USFWS, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center), Randy Wilson (USFWS), Mark Woodrey (Coastal Research and Extension Center-Mississippi State University), Jeffrey Gleason (USFWS), Michael Just (Assistant, NCSU Global Change Fellow)

  • Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
  • American Bird Conservancy
  • Audubon Mississippi
  • Barataria Terrebonne National Estuary Program
  • Biodiversity Research Institute
  • Connecting Conservation
  • East Gulf Coastal Plain Joint Venture
  • Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
  • Grand Bay NERR
  • Gulf Coast Bird Observatory
  • Gulf Coast Joint Venture
  • Gulf Coastal Plains & Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative
  • Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative
  • Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
  • Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences
  • Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality
  • Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks
  • Mississippi State University
  • National Audubon Society
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • National Park Service
  • North Carolina State University
  • Ocean Conservancy
  • Southeast Climate Science Center
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Tulane University
  • University of Florida
  • University of Georgia
  • University of West Florida
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • U.S. Geological Survey


The Deepwater Horizon oil spill directly impacted birds and their habitats at an unprecedented scale within the Gulf of Mexico. Early efforts to determine pre-spill baseline conditions for avian resources highlighted the lack of adequate data to inform decision-makers, as well as the lack of any comprehensive, integrated approach that would permit evaluation of realized damages or response to future on-the-ground restoration efforts. However, this environmental disaster has also resulted in an equally unprecedented focus on the Gulf ecosystem and resources to support its restoration and recovery. Designing a coordinated, integrated, and collaborative avian monitoring program for this system has many challenges: (1) the scope and scale of the Gulf ecosystem, (2) the number of partners, stakeholders, and required expertise; and (3) the amount of funding required to successfully design and implement a Gulf-wide avian monitoring program. Yet meeting this challenge is imperative to understanding population trends and cause and effect relationships that underscore demographic processes that drive trends; as well as providing a basis for judging success of Gulf restoration efforts.

Over the last two years, an ad-hoc working group of conservation partners representing >20 agencies and organizations have been utilizing a Structured Decision Making framework to identify and agree upon a set of core values and fundamental objectives that underpin avian monitoring needs within the Gulf of Mexico.